Tuesday 21 May 2019

Arrests celebrated by citizens who fled country

A military tank is seen with armed soldiers on the road leading to President Robert Mugabe's office in Harare, Zimbabwe . Photo: AP
A military tank is seen with armed soldiers on the road leading to President Robert Mugabe's office in Harare, Zimbabwe . Photo: AP

Olivia Kumwenda

Zimbabweans living in South Africa hope the move by the military to seize power from President Robert Mugabe will end corruption, abuse of power and economic hardships, even though uncertainty remained as to who was in charge.

Several million Zimbabweans have fled the country, mostly to South Africa, after the economy shrank by more than a third from 2000 to 2008 following the collapse of the agriculture sector. Unemployment rose to more than 80pc. Many in the diaspora said they were happy to see change back home at last.

"I think it's a step in the right direction for a political situation which was now a joke," Kevin Mpofu (28) said. "The arrests that have happened so far are a celebration for many Zimbabweans tired of the corruption and abuse of power."

A 30-year-old Zimbabwean working as a marketing officer in South Africa, who gave his name as Billy, said it was "about time, but it might be 20 years too late".

He worried that one strongman might follow another: "It may be hard in future to remove that person as well. We might have another 37 years ahead of us of a single person."

The main goal of the generals appears to be preventing Mr Mugabe's wife Grace (52) from succeeding him. The military stepped in after Mr Mugabe sacked his presumed successor, Vice-President Emerson Mnangagwa, last week. Mr Mnangagwa's unexpected downfall followed months of sometimes vitriolic attacks by Mrs Mugabe, who used national rallies organised by Zanu-PF youths to attack her party rivals.

"We have suffered way too long under Mugabe, and ironically to some point Grace Mugabe is our hero. If it wasn't for her big mouth and her big ego this situation would not have happened," said 36-year-old Mbangeni Nyathi, Johannesburg-based spokesman for Tajamuka, a pressure group calling for change in Zimbabwe.

"We are not sure who is in charge but we are ready for any kind of change," he said.

Asked if he would return to Zimbabwe if the economy was revived, Billy said: "Definitely, there is no place like home."

Irish Independent

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