HARARE – Prominent Zimbabwean journalist Itai Dzamara has continued leading the “Occupy Africa Unity Square” protest in the capital Harare.
Dzamara who is the editor of The News Leader newspaper was arrested Friday after he called on President Robert Mugabe to step down in a petition that was delivered to the presidential Munhumutapa Offices in Harare.
Africa Unity Square is a few blocks away from Mugabe’s offices.
On Tuesday Dzamara wrote “we occupied Africa Unity Square today, yet again forced the state to respond, and, yet again, demonstrated our goodwill by agreeing to negotiate. We are the people! We are the numbers!”
Dzamara said up to 50 people made themselves available and openly grouped with them as they occupied the square, starting from around 9am in the morning. Police deployed almost 70 members in heavy riot gear.
Those gathering at the square say they want a response from President Mugabe, to the demands for him to admit failure, step down and pave way for a process towards finding a new national plan for governance and leadership.
“It was amazing, heart-rending and humbling. One man, Roleen Gandiwa, travelled from Kwekwe early in the morning to be with us. I met and knew him today for the very first time. Another one, Chicco Siziba, travelled from Luis Tritchard in South Africa yesterday, and joined the historic moment. I also met and got to know him for the first time,” Dzamara said.
“Indeed, these are true testimonies and the people shall tell their own stories. These and others, genuinely and with enough commitment, embraced the idea and plan. They went the step further to making a representation at the square. Unbelievable, how dreams really become true.
“I no longer call it ‘my demands’, because, officially, over 100 other Zimbabweans turned up to express their agreement and solidarity with ‘our demands’. The police had fears that we would embark on a demonstration or march from the square. Then police decided to clear the square, and, indeed, they chased everyone out. We had a group of about 35 of us who were gathered together at a particular spot and were resolved to resist being chased away,” Dzamara added.
The petition to Mugabe encourages him to step down immediately and pave way for a process of engagement involving all national stakeholders, towards the establishment of a new administration that takes over, to manage the country and prepare for fresh elections.
The petition also advised Mr. Mugabe that the protests, dubbed Occupy Africa Unity Square, would start on Monday until the president left office and met other demands such as responding to the petition.