Zimbabweans in SA react: “I think everyone knows that it is a coup”

The ongoing situation in Zimbabwe seems to have left many Zimbabweans in South Africa and in Zimbabwe unsure about the future of the country. The outcome of the military takeover is yet to be realised with negotiations ongoing between President Robert Mugabe and the military currently taking place. The Daily Vox team spoke to a few Zimbabweans living in South Africa about what they hope will be the best outcome of the current military takeover in Zimbabwe.

Mako Muzenda, 24, student, Harare
I think with the word “coup” connotes bloodshed, violence, and people shooting up in the streets. We haven’t seen any of that. Flights are still coming in and out, there has not been any violence on the streets and ordinary citizens have not been affected. I would say the word “coup” seems extreme. The phrase “military intervention” seems a bit closer. With regards to the coverage of the situation so far, Western media has buckled. Certain news outlets didn’t even use the Zimbabwean flags in their tweets, they didn’t use analysts from Zimbabwe and as a result there’s been a lot of misinterpretation going on around. I said I’m not going to follow BBC, or CNN or any of those people. I like get my information from journalists who I know are either in Zimbabwe, or have close reliable witnesses on the ground who can tell them what’s going on. Relying on those guys, you’re going to get a different, or an inaccurate representation of what is going on. I think ultimately what we need more than anything in the future is stability. A country where people can live in peacefully.

*Chiratidzo Mduduzi, 20, student, Harare
It is unlikely, but what I think would be best for the future of Zimbabwe is a complete removal of the current political party. Mugabe might go but people need to realise that he was not aware of half the things that were happening in Zimbabwe. The reason why Zimbabwe has regrets is because of the cancer that is the ruling party. It’s not an individual. Cabinet ministers were stealing millions of funds. Unless there is a change in the political front, in terms of the parties and power, then therIe isn’t anything to celebrate. As long as the person ruling is from the ruling party, the future is still bleak. As for Emmerson Mnangagwa being rumoured to be Mugabe’s replacement, some would see him coming in as a fresh start for Zimbabwe. But on the other hand, he is someone who was complicit in the system. The fact that the military coup was a result of his sacking shows the kind of character he is. The military coup is him asserting his authority and it happened as a result of him being sacked. If that is his reaction when he is sacked, if he is to become President and people do not want him in power, what will his retaliation be then?

Makomborero Majome, 22, student, Harare
I think for a lot of Zimbabweans this is a time to essentially celebrate because this is a point at which we can look up and have a prospect of change for a better Zimbabwe. If we look at the reason why Zimbabweans have been suffering for so long, it is essentially because of one person. The fact that we have reached the point where he has been toppled from power is a reason for hope. I think everyone knows that it is a coup. I mean the prerequisites for a coup are that you have everyone under house arrest you essentially take over the daily operating of the country. But it is also dangerous to call it a coup because we know the African Union, amongst other regional and international bodies, will react to a coup. Also, by referring to what is going on as a “national democratic project” means it is a program to target criminals. To any ordinary Zimbabwean, the army is doing the Lord’s work and is for whatever work they are pursuing. I think no matter what level of comfortability that Zimbabweans reach, we have to have elections next year, choose our own leader, and progress into an actual democracy.

*Tinotenda Chimbizi, 22, student, Harare
On Monday, when I had returned home from school in South Africa, we drove into town and saw the military trucks, but everything else looked normal. However on Tuesday, when social media began to go crazy and news from the army general came in, there have been quite hectic cases. My one friend was stopped on his way to work and asked for his work ID. There seem to be targeting certain people who have been making the economic and political situation worse for the president and they have been trying to stop them before they leave the country. Economically speaking, we really need change. With unemployment rates of 90%, we need there to be order. We need to take note that the people fighting Mugabe were once his allies. The reason why they might be doing this is because they have stopped getting portions of the pie and now it seems like they are fighting because of that. If you look around, citizens have been complaining, since 2008 the economy has been unstable and poverty has been soaring, so why now? But then again they might just want to bring change to the country.

Rangarirai Takuva, 23, student, Bulawayo
I am excited about what is going to happen in the next couple of weeks politically, but at the same time I am worried about what will happen if the situation escalates into something that we might not be able to handle. I think I would label it as a public intervention because the military did not necessarily reserve power or impose themselves as leader of the country. I think the former vice president now has the opportunity to be progressive about the leadership of Zimbabwe and try and change certain aspects of the economy. He is potentially going to be the next President and I am just waiting to see if he has anything to contribute to the betterment of the country.

Tendai Bhiza, 40, office administrator, Eastern Highlands
It is not clear whether this is a coup or not because this is the first time something like this is happening in Zimbabwe. I don’t think it would be appropriate to call it a coup. For now I think it’s better for people to be concentrating on strategising on the way forward for the future of Zimbabwe. At the same time, I think the army have done a good job. There was too much power so I think they also came to realise that what they were doing was not good for the future of Zimbabwe. I think if the old man [Mugabe] can just step down, I think that will be a good move. But he is in a really tight situation because at the moment, if he takes his wife’s part, he will have done a bad thing. I am not sure if he [Mnangagwa] is the right candidate. I was thinking it should be someone else from another party who will make a change because he is still the same ZANU-PF. So that won’t make any change. If there is an opposition party, we can then say that there is a complete change in Zimbabwe.

TK Makoni, 32, senior copywriter, Harare
People need to remember that this is not a coup in the classic sense. This is an internal party problem that has roped in the army. I think Zimbabweans are sick and tired of the status quo but this isn’t necessarily the dawn of a new democracy. The best case scenario, we live in hope, is for the army to normalise the situation and the economy and allow for the democratic processes to play out. I am not very hopeful of that situation. Worst case scenario would be chaos and business as usual with nothing changing. Let’s not forget Mnangagwa has been involved in the rigging of the last election and other things. People need to not forget that. But I think at the same time, it’s about compromise. If he’s willingly to compromise to normalise the economy and give Zimbabweans the chance at a normal life, I think Zimbabweans will be willingly to move on. I think most Zimbabweans want to put food on the table and have a job with a decent wage and if Mnangagwa can realise those dreams, people will be willingly to listen to what he has to say.

Simoen Forichi, 38, carpenter and political activist, Chipinge South
I think it is a coup because the president of the republic is currently under house arrest since Tuesday. It’s a good move because Robert Mugabe has been in power for too long. Secondly, it can be better for Zimbabweans because this move might end up in a government of national unity. The best move is to consult all of the political parties in Zimbabwe, then they can nominate leaders from the political parties to form a coalition government. The worst that can happen is the soldiers are saying that they do not support anyone who is not a liberation war hero. So even if there are elections and those elections are won by someone who from the opposition who is not a war veteran, I think the soldiers will intervene because they do not want to be led by those they think know nothing about the war. If Mnangagwa becomes the next president, it seems okay. Currently, he will be the interim president because there won’t be an election. But what is needed currently is a coalition government that will be comprised of the major political parties in the country.

Voxes have been edited for clarity and brevity. Additional reporting by Ethel Nshakira

*Names have been changed


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