Australian-Zimbabweans woke yesterday to the news they thought they may never hear — the man who had ruled their country with an iron fist for 37 years had resigned.
Many now will be considering whether Robert Mugabe’s departure will make it safe to return to a country still in the grip of an economic crisis and facing a seismic shift in political power.
Lucky Ngoshi has lived in Perth since 2005.
She fell asleep reading the news, and woke about 3:00am to a flood of messages and excitement.
“I was over the moon, I was really excited because this is what we’ve been waiting, we’ve been wanting for a long time, so it was wonderful news to wake up to, I must say,” she said.
“I think it’s also sending a message to other African countries, who are probably in a similar situation that there is hope.”
Who is ‘The Crocodile’?
But while Mr Mugabe will no longer be heading the party, Ms Ngoshi has some reservations about whether the move will guarantee more political freedom for Zimbabweans long term.
Former Zanu PF deputy president and long time enforcer for Mugabe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is due to be sworn in to replace Mr Mugabe on Friday.
“He’s still from the same party — Zanu PF — and this is a man who has been with the president for a long time, he’s been alongside him,” Ms Ngoshi said.
“All the atrocities, all the … everything that has happened to Zimbabwe, he’s been there, together with Mugabe, and he never stood up, so we’ll see what happens now.
“Zimbabwe is still my home, and I think my heart belongs there so I would love to go back home one day, but we don’t know whether it’s safe just yet.”
‘There’s no place like home‘
Tapiwa Keith Makuni left Zimbabwe at just 19.
“Honestly I love Zimbabwe, there’s no place like home, but right now … unemployment is still over 90 per cent, the country’s still in shambles, the economy is still dead,” Mr Makuni said.
“It’s going to take time for Zimbabwe to be rebuilt.”
He is also not sure how the political situation will develop under Mr Mnangagwa, and believes a deeper shift in his country’s political culture needs to occur.
“Above all, Emmerson Mnangagwa also needs to take responsibility and apologise to the citizens, because over the years Zanu PF has caused so much pain to the citizens of Zimbabwe,” Mr Makuni said.
Activist urges patience, support
Political activist Vusumuzi ‘BB’ Gumbo hopes economic sanctions against the country can be lifted by the international community, allowing the economy to recover.
Mr Gumbo said Emmerson was an old ally of Mugabe, but hopes he will step out from his shadow.
“Everybody, [if] we give Mnangagwa a chance, he is a different person,” he said.
“He doesn’t have Mugabe’s DNA in him.
“Zanu PF is a party [and] for the past 40 years, he has known nothing else except Mugabe’s theory.”
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