President Robert Mugabe would have wanted to retire in a blaze of lights and cameras with the world at his feet, Zimbabwe ululating and his wife firmly on the throne.
Mugabe has been resisting pressure from the army to step down since he was put under house arrest last Wednesday, but analysts agreed that the writing was now on the wall.
"It is a matter of time. He is gone," academic Ibbo Mandaza said on Friday.
"This, in my view, is the best time for a national transitional authority, an independent body to take the country forward, possibly headed by a cleric.
"We must all guard against allowing the opportunists, in the opposition in particular, cashing in on the situation."
Mandaza urged human rights groups to keep a keen eye on how those being arrested by the military were being treated while in custody.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer Eldred Masunungure said astute negotiations were Mugabe's only chance for a respectable exit.
"Mugabe is under siege. He is a prisoner of his own lieutenant," he said.
"The best is for him to negotiate a favourable exit. The soldiers are aware they cannot revert to the pre-November 15 situation. It would be suicidal for them to do that".
Harare-based political analyst Shakespear Hamauswa said Mugabe's delaying tactics were not going to save him from a premature exit.
"That is the end. Fortunately for him, it is going to be a dignified end. He is negotiating his exit," he said.
"If he refuses, that will be delaying tactics and his party will recall him and the parliamentarians can impeach him. He is finished."
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