Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule has in effect been at an end since the army seized control in the early hours of Wednesday, confining him to his residence.
Shortly after news of Sunday’s meeting emerged, a convoy left Mugabe’s official residence in Harare to the jeers of onlookers, although it was unclear if he was inside.
Marchers had massed outside his home on Saturday, revelling in their freedom to voice anger at decades of misrule as well as hope for a better future for Zimbabwe. Many waved the national flag, chanting and singing. Some embraced soldiers or posed with them for selfies. The march had been sanctioned by the military.
Euphoric crowds filled streets in the capital on Saturday morning and cars honked their horns calling for the veteran leader to step down.
“These are tears of joy,” said Frank Mutsindikwa, 34, holding aloft the Zimbabwean flag. “I’ve been waiting all my life for this day. Free at last. We are free at last.”
There were similar scenes in the southern city of Bulawayo, as well as abroad, where diaspora Zimbabweans held their own rallies.
In the early afternoon, some headed towards the Zimbabwean president’s sprawling mansion in the wealthy neighbourhood of Borrowdale.
They were responding to a call from a leader of the powerful Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association.
“Let us now go and deliver the message that grandfather Mugabe and his typist-cum-wife should go home,” the war veterans’ association secretary general, Victor Matemadanda, told the marchers at a rally.
Protesters gather behind an army cordon on the road leading to State House.
Protesters gather behind an army cordon on the road leading to State House. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP
Despite mounting pressure, Mugabe has refused demands to leave office.
Relatives say the veteran autocrat and his wife are “ready to die for what is correct” and have no intention of stepping down in order to legitimise this week’s military coup.
Speaking to Reuters from a secret location in South Africa, Patrick Zhuwao, Mugabe’s nephew, said on Saturday that his uncle had hardly slept since the military seized power, but his health was otherwise good.
The military and senior officials within the ruling Zanu-PF party now appear set on forcing Mugabe, the only ruler Zimbabwe has known since independence ion 1980, to step down within 48 hours.
Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party is expected to meet on Sunday to sack Robert Mugabe and reinstate the vice-president he dismissed, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
A party central committee meeting scheduled for 8.30am UK time would also dismiss the president’s preferred successor, his wife, Grace, from her role as head of the party’s women’s league.