31/12/2016 13:11 GMT | Updated 31/12/2016 13:53 GMT

'Massive Protests' To Force Mugabe To Quit

Plans are allegedly underway to force Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to quit his position as head of state, which he has occupied for 36 years.

Philimon Bulawayo / Reuters
President Robert Mugabe arrives to address mourners gathered for the funeral of former cabinet minister and ZANU-PF member Cephas Msipa in Harare, Zimbabwe, October 22, 2016.

A prominent Zimbabwean social movement calling itself #Tajamuka has vowed to stage "massive" anti-government protests in 2017 to force President Robert Mugabe to resign for allegedly failing to run the affairs of the southern African country, among other issues.

The grouping, made up of youths from various Zimbabwean opposition parties and civil society organisations, has led a series of demonstrations since its formation a few months ago.

#Tajamuka leader Promise Mkwananzi told News24 in an exclusive interview that his organisation had already started mobilising Zimbabweans to take to the streets in the coming year to demand that Mugabe steps down to pave way for fresh elections.

"We are going to increase our numbers in the streets of the country to force Mugabe to leave office," said Mkwananzi.

But police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charamba warned that law enforcement agents would be out in full force to deal with any form of lawlessness.

Police clearance

"The police is determined to apply the law to its fullest; we are not going to allow any unsanctioned gatherings and demonstrations and we encourage all organisations and individuals to first seek clearance from the regulating authorities," said Charamba.

#Tajamuka maintains that it would never seek police clearance, arguing that "the police were an extension of the Mugabe dictatorship".

#Tajamuka, working with other social movements such #ThisFlag led by exiled pastor Evan Mawarire, led a two-day national shutdown in July that left the country paralysed. Dozens of activists were arrested and arraigned in courts countrywide, charged with public violence.

For his part, Mugabe has told the world that he was not going to leave office "as long as I still have the mandate from the people of Zimbabwe".

Zimbabwe's opposition parties have long charged that Mugabe lacked legitimacy after he controversially thumped former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the the 2013 national elections that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said were rigged.

Opposition coalition

The parties were now mulling to form a coalition and field a single presidential candidate that would face off with Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party.

Mkwananzi said #Tajamuka was set to forge an alliance with the country's opposition parties in order to strengthen opposition against Mugabe.

"We are going to put pressure on all opposition parties to form the coalition in time for the 2018 elections; this (coalition) is the only escape route for Zimbabweans who are faced with rising poverty and are subjected human rights abuses by their government."