The following morning, tens of thousands of Zimbabweans — some chanting, “Enough is enough!” and carrying signs emblazoned with “Mugabe must go” — marched side by side with the military and hailed the army as setting them free from Mr. Mugabe’s long autocratic rule.
Marchers swarmed to the grounds, with soldiers mounted on tankers with machine guns slowly moving alongside. Drivers honked their horns, and at one point, military aircraft streaked by above the crowds.
“Soldiers are being feted as heroes on the streets of Harare,” Mr. Malaba, the editor, said on Twitter. “Euphoric scenes. People are standing next to army tanks and taking selfies. I’ve seen chaps excitedly polishing soldiers’ boots in a gesture of gratitude. This is unprecedented. Historic!”
For many Zimbabweans, the atmosphere was electric, even celebratory.
Benita Mudondo, 57, came to the rally from the Nyanga District, more than 180 miles to the east near the border with Mozambique. “Surely Zimbabwe, our country, is back — the one country we fought for,” she said. “We had given up, but had become worried about the future of our children and grandchildren.”
Her husband, Ernst Mudondo, 67, a war veteran, said, “Our joy only starts today, and we are so happy.”
Their daughter, Michelle Mudondo, 17, said: “We are here as youth to claim back our country, our pride. We want to see our country on a path back to recovery; I look forward to a stable government with a stable economy without shortages of cash.”
For Zimbabwe’s university graduates, the march was a platform to express optimism as they looked forward to life without Mr. Mugabe in power.
“I am here because I want a job, and Mugabe couldn’t deliver,” said Simbarashe Sakuona, 23, who said he had a degree in marketing from Midlands State University. “We were witnessing a bedroom coup as Grace now called the shots. Grace can’t be a leader.”
Nigel Mukwena, a 24-year-old student of political science at the University of Zimbabwe, said: “Mugabe must go, and his goons must leave. We have been victimized by Mugabe for too long.”
The South African president, Jacob Zuma, who had sent diplomats to try to defuse the situation in Zimbabwe, said on Saturday that his country was committed to supporting “the people of Zimbabwe,” according to Reuters. Mr. Zuma said he was cautiously optimistic that the situation could be resolved amicably.
Now, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, the vice president of Zimbabwe until he was fired recently, is in line to become the country’s new leader. Observers say he shares some of Mr. Mugabe’s traits: He is power-hungry, corrupt and a master of repression.
His nickname: the “crocodile.”