The result of last week’s general election in Zimbabwe has dashed the hopes of Zimbabweans living in Hout Bay, some believing it will be years before they can return home.
Hout Bay’s Zimbabwean community is shocked that Zanu-PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa retained the presidency in the face of strong opposition from the MDC Alliance’s Nelson Chamisa.
While Mr Mnangagwa was hailed by Zimbabweans for removing former president Robert Mugabe from power, there was a strong sense that the MDC Alliance and, in particular, Mr Chamisa, would herald a new dawn for the beleaguered nation.
Unfortunately, widespread allegations of vote rigging on the part of Zanu-PF have once again surfaced in the wake of the president’s victory, which immediately was met with violent protests that claimed the lives of six people. Across the country, it is being reported that those who voted for the MDC Alliance are being beaten by Zanu-PF loyalists as retribution for their lack of support at the polls.
Such was the faith Hout Bay Zimbabweans had for a new chapter in the southern African state’s history, say those who spoke to the Sentinel, that they were already making plans to return home to establish businesses and organisations using the skills they have developed in South Africa.
“Every week, we’ve been talking about going home. We were making plans about all the things we were going to do. But now we are angry and frustrated that we won’t be able to,” said Sabina Morison Mbiri.
“We’ve been in contact with Zimbabweans all over the world, and we were all planning on what we would do when we went back. Now all that planning has gone to waste.
“My kids are 13 and 17, and they are just shocked at this result. When I left Zimbabwe, there was no quality of life. We were so tired of waiting in line to get money. We thought it would change, but now this has happened.”
Angie Nyamunetsa said her 23-year-old daughter had not been home in nine years and missed Zimbabwe terribly. All was in readiness for the family to return, but they now had to make peace with remaining in South Africa.
“We did all this planning. We all have skills that could be used to develop our country. Instead, we will have to use our skills to develop other people’s countries.”
Both women believe that “nothing will change” in Zimbabwe for at least the next 15 years.
“Mnangagwa will be in power for the next five years, but you’ve also got to consider the people who put him there, (vice-president) Constantino Chiwenga and Perence Shiri. They are waiting in the wings,” Ms Nyamunetsa said.
It was widely held that young women would have a significant influence on the election, but Ms Nyamunetsa said she was amazed to see television interviews in which young women sang the praises
of Zanu-PF, and in fact called for protesting MDC Alliance supporters to be shot.
“You have to face the fact that if you give people in Zimbabwe money, they will do anything. This is the mind-set of Zimbabwe.”
Ms Mbiri said there was also the perception that the MDC had Western ideas. “Mugabe brainwashed Zimbabweans for so long that all things Western were bad. But we shouldn’t blame the West, we should blame the leaders for what has happened.”
The women had encountered other Zimbabweans in Hout Bay, many of whom were “incredibly depressed” about the election result.
“I have been in contact with my cousin who is a teacher, and she told me that since the election people are intimidated, so we are very worried.”
Ms Nyamunetsa said the reality was that under a Zanu-PF government, people could not register businesses unless they were card-carrying members of Mr Mnangagwa’s party.
The women said Zanu-PF ruled by fear, and youth brigades known as the “Green Bombers”, mercenary units of thugs, often did the party’s bidding among the people.
“The government will do anything to stay in power,” Ms Mbiri said.
Ms Nyamunetsa lamented that Zimbabwe’s future would be one of people just trying to survive.