Zim expats remember Mnangagwa's role in Gukurahundi massacres

23 November 2017 - 16:52
By Sabelo Ndlangisa
Emmerson Mnangagwa. File photo.
Image: JEKESAI NJIKIZANA / AFP Emmerson Mnangagwa. File photo.

Robert Mugabe’s fall from grace is cold comfort for Zimbabwean expatriate Shepherd Mpofu.

For the post-doctoral fellow and researcher at the University of Johannesburg‚ who left his childhood home in Matebeleland in 2006 to settle in Johannesburg‚ Emmerson Mnangagwa’s swearing-in as president will not change the dire situation in Zimbabwe.

Mpofu’s extended family has scattered over the years between South Africa‚ Zambia and the UK to escape the economic hardships in Zimbabwe.

“Some of us grew up in Zimbabwe from the beginning of independence knowing that it was only flag independence‚ not meant for justice and the development of our region. The idea of a new Zimbabwe that Mnangagwa brings is celebrated by those you might call the children of Zanu-PF‚” he said.

Mpofu’s mother and younger brother Bruce left for Johannesburg in the early 2000s‚ and two of his uncles did the same.

The 37-year old‚ who is now married to a South African engineer and has two young children‚ rarely visits Zimbabwe.

Instead he chooses to send remittances to his relatives to what he describes as a “crumbling economy”. The family meets at funerals these days.

While he never thought he’d live to see Mugabe step down from power‚ he said the legacy left by the 93-year-old former strongman would continue.

One of his painful childhood memories is of seeing his uncles being forced by soldiers to beat their elders with sticks in order to reveal the whereabouts of “dissidents” – former Zipra soldiers who deserted the Zimbabwean army – during the Gukurahundi massacres in the early 1980s.

“It was a traumatic period for some of us as children ... whenever I spoke to my grandmother about the issue of Gukurahundi‚ she’d start shedding tears about the experiences‚” he said.

“The president who is being celebrated now oversaw that part of Zimbabwe’s history. That’s why some of us are not sold on the idea of a new Zimbabwe under Mnangagwa.”

Mpofu‚ who graduated with a PhD in media studies in 2014‚ aspires to eventually teach at one of his adopted country’s universities someday.

People have been asking if he would be going back following the dramatic political developments in his native country.

He is staying put.