Zimbabweans wish for real improvements in economy, human rights after election

23 August 2023 - 07:23
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Three Zimbabweans living in Johannesburg for many years spoke about how intertwined their lives have become in their adoptive country and whether voting in today’s election is a priority.
Three Zimbabweans living in Johannesburg for many years spoke about how intertwined their lives have become in their adoptive country and whether voting in today’s election is a priority.

Zimbabweans living in South Africa are keeping a firm eye on what’s happening in their home country as elections start on Wednesday.

Speaking to TimesLIVE in the days leading up to the vote, some Zimbabwean nationals based in South Africa said they would travel to Zimbabwe to vote while others said they don’t want to or do not have money to travel there.

Paul Chakaduka, 45, a finance professional, said:  I will be going home to vote. I have never missed an election. I will not be voting for Zanu-PF, that’s a given. This is a harmonised election [for both local and national government representatives] so my political party choice at council level may be different to who I vote for at presidential level and parliamentary level. Zanu-PF is not an option.

“I live between Harare and Johannesburg. Joburg is my second home. I have lived here for 14 years. I speak chiZezuru and English. 

“I am a Zimbabwean deep to my core. This election matters as Zimbabwe is my home, the home of our forbearers and, most importantly, the home of the next generations of Zimbabweans.

“We need to make sure we build and fight for a free and democratic Zimbabwe for the future generations of Zimbabwe

“I fortunately live in Johannesburg which is very cosmopolitan and fluid. I still identify as a Zimbabwean even though I am highly integrated into Joburg life. Joburg is for all people from different parts of the world and different parts of South Africa. I have to fit in. 

“My vote matters as I have seen the power of elections in my constituency. I live in a Zanu-PF free constituency and we have done so for more than 20 years. 

Absai Vasivenyu, 36, a former student leader and construction manager, is not heading to his home country this week.

He said: “Every right-thinking Zimbabwean living in South Africa wants a change of positions of power in that country for many reasons.

“The fact that we are staying in South Africa says a lot about us. If all things were right in our country we could have been there. Being in South Africa is not by choice but because things are not right in our own country.

“As much as we encourage everyone to exercise their democratic right to vote, I feel my vote would go to waste. There have been so many discrepancies at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

“The fact that the ZEC has not released the final copy of the voters’ role to the players until the 11th hour raises so much suspicion. The fact that the delimitation exercise is still under contestation, that we have a presidential candidate, Saviour Kasukuwere, suspended from the process, [and] his case has been dismissed by the courts gives substance to what the opposition parties about the courts being captured.

“We have opposition leaders like Job Sikhala in prison without fair trial and he is a political prisoner.

“All this and other issues haunting the processes, like the media which does not air opposition political rallies and government — through the police banning opposition political rallies — are issues of great concern on whether it matters whether one votes or not.

“Being in South Africa does not change the fact that we are Zimbabweans. We are Africans. We feel we are at home away from home. I always tell my South African friends that I can eat breakfast in Zimbabwe and supper in Johannesburg. A lot of us work here and we are able to fly or commute home and come back to work. We are only separated by a river. Going to Cape Town from Johannesburg is further than going to Zimbabwe.

Gracious, 43, a general worker, did not want to reveal her surname.

She said: “I am a contracted general worker and my job is to maintain the grounds of a residential estate in the north of Joburg. I also do general house cleaning for homes inside the complex as and when I get called in and on my off days.

“The problem that makes us leave Zimbabwe to come and seek refuge in South Africa is because our home country does not have jobs. Our nation is rich, has gold and other minerals, and every resource to make it possible to live in it and survive. But our leadership is failing us.

'With the upcoming election and voting, we are not expecting anything.

“We have been living in South Africa for all these years because there are rights that govern here and they are respected, as long as you are a person who behaves and abides by the law.

“We are feeling hopeless about the future of the land of our forefathers. I will not be going home to vote. I do not know who I would be going home to vote for.

“After those politicians win they won’t be looking out for us. When you look at when we attained freedom in 1980, it did not work. In fact, we became more oppressed. Our nation is rich and has all the tools but if we had good leadership, we would be able to remain in our country with our parents and grandparents, but we can’t do that because the leadership fails us. Perhaps if we get a change of leadership and a new president, things might change, but I don’t see him [Emmerson Mnangagwa] leaving that office any time soon. We can’t guarantee that even if we vote things will change.

“It’s like being married to your husband for 20 years where he abuses and mistreats you over the years, doing nothing substantial to improve your life. Then the moment you decide you want out and ask for divorce, all of a sudden you get promised heaven and the earth? What are the realistic chances of him doing right by you after failing you all these years?

“Similarly, now that its election time they are promising to do right by the citizens. How when they have been mistreating and failing us all these 43 years?

“There’s no vote of mine that I am going to waste. If there is a job, they can call me, and I will go. But I will not waste my time.”


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