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How long can Robert Mugabe resist the military's plans for transition?

Mugabe has shown little sign of giving way. Credit: AP

In their tens of thousands the people of Zimbabwe delivered a message so loud and clear that even a 93-year-old dictator who's had it his way for 40 years couldn't miss it.

And today Robert Mugabe is likely to be stripped of the leadership of the ruling ZANU-PF party, though not the presidency itself.

And yet there's no public sign of him giving way.

A relative, his nephew, has revealed Mugabe hasn't slept since the military takeover.

But, he added ominously, he's "ready to die" to do the right thing.

He means, staying put.

The military might come to regret sanctioning the protests Credit: AP

Mugabe has another meeting coming up with General Constantino Chiwenga – the man who has held him under house arrest for four days – to discuss his proposed departure.

It's hard to know what more there could be to say to each other.

It's clear this has not gone according to the military's plan, which envisaged a smooth transfer of authority from one ruling clique to another.

They might come to regret sanctioning the protests.

Zimbabwe enjoyed its experiment with people power.

Many of those who marched in their tens of thousand don't just want Mugabe gone – they want the machinery that kept him in power smashed too.