Zimbabweans who have fled economic hardship and political problems to fend for their families in South Africa have lost interest in the affairs of their country.
They did not care who was sacked this week by President Robert Mugabe or who was appointed to his newly reshuffled Cabinet, saying their country’s woes required economic policies that would ease the hardships faced by their families back home.
Zimbabwean Chenjerai-Patson Muzvidziwa said: “I am sick and tired of the Zimbabwean question. What matters now for my wife and me is how to ensure that our children go to school and get them food, clothes and proper healthcare.
“Otherwise, the issue of who is reshuffled, expelled or appointed in Zimbabwe is no longer any of my business.”
On Monday night Mugabe, 93, rearranged his Cabinet on the back of intense factional battles waged by camps jostling for his succession and of a worsening economic situation coming ahead of elections scheduled for next year.
Among other changes, Mugabe’s first deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was removed as minister of justice, legal and parliamentary affairs.
He also introduced new ministries such as the cyber security, threat detection and mitigation ministry, as well as another responsible for national scholarships.
Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party is torn between factions siding with Mnangagwa and the increasingly influential First Lady, Grace, to succeed the president.
Muzvidziwa said he used to follow developments back home with keen interest in 2008, when South Africa’s then president Thabo Mbeki attempted to mediate in the Zimbabwean crisis.
At the time, Mbeki’s efforts led to the September 2008 government of national unity between Mugabe and his arch-rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
Although it was short-lived, the settlement temporarily boosted Zimbabwe’s economic stability with new investments.
The quality of life for its citizens also improved – out-of-stock hospitals got the drugs they needed; safe water could be found in most communities; and supermarkets were full of commodities.
Compared with the current acute shortages of basic commodities and cash, it was a golden era.
“Since Mbeki left government, I also lost hope,” Muzvidziwa said.
“I am just praying that South Africa’s department of home affairs gives me and my family permanent residence in this country so that I completely disown Zimbabwe.”
During the interview, Muzvidziwa was sending groceries to his home town of Masvingo through the “malayishas”, an informal courier service.
Zimbabwean Farai Ncube, originally from Binga, a district in Matabeleland North, said he was selling items in Braamfontein to generate money for his parents back home.
“I send the money using malayishas. I cannot send it through formal means as I do not have documentation,” he said.
A significant portion of the population in Ncube’s home province relies on goods and remittances sent by family members outside of the country, mainly from South Africa.
Onisimo Zviripai, who works for one of the bus companies plying the Harare-Johannesburg route, was also unconcerned about the Cabinet reshuffle and other political problems.
“At least I don’t commit a crime or steal from other people but eat from my sweat,” he said.
More concerned about bread-and-butter
Advocate Gabriel Shumba, the executive director of civic organisation the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, said: “Very clearly, the reshuffle is a political and secessionist manoeuvre that has neither the current economic interests of Zimbabwe nor its long-term future [at heart].
“A cause for serious concern is the new ministry of cyber security. In the execution of whatever mandate will be accorded, it is likely to clash with some provisions of our Constitution.”
Shumba said Zimbabweans were more concerned about bread-and-butter, as well as developmental, issues that were sacrificed at the altar of political expedience and personal aggrandisement, adding:
“The country needs to reinvent and re-articulate its vision.”
Ngqabutho Mabhena, the Johannesburg-based general secretary of the Zimbabwe Communist Party, lamented the appointment of the ministers of scholarships and of of cyber security, arguing that they should have been absorbed into existing ministries.
“Unfortunately, without a clear economic and political programme, this Cabinet reshuffle is meaningless as it will not address our economic, social and political challenges,” Mabhena said.
He said the need for a new leadership that would unite the polarised and distressed nation was the biggest challenge facing Zimbabwe, along with the looting of resources by the “parasitic bourgeoisie”.
Luke Dzipange Zunga, secretary general of the Zimbabwean Civil Society Organisations, said while Mugabe had the liberty to change his Cabinet, the reshuffle confirmed that Zimbabwe was not run by Parliament or central government.
Instead, it was run via intelligence operatives.
Zunga said following the reshuffle and the elective congress, Mnangagwa risked being arrested to sideline him from presidential contention.
He further predicted that the 2018 elections would see poverty-stricken villagers frog-marched to the polls to vote for the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Zunga went on to forecast that after those elections – which Mugabe would win if such machinations worked – he would install Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi as his successor and Grace as the deputy, while another deputy would come from the former Zapu party, in accordance with the 1987 Unity Accord it signed with Zanu-PF. – CAJ News