Durban – Zimbabweans living in Durban have expressed optimism at the prospect of returning home to vote in the country’s first elections that would not feature former president Robert Mugabe.
The 94-year-old had been the country’s president for more than 35 years and his reign ended last year in what is believed to have been a bloodless coup.
Tinashe Chitsa, described the experience as being “surreal”. The 30-year-old University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) graduate, said he felt excited at the prospect of what could be the country’s first free and fair elections.
“Most Zimbabweans in Durban just want the economy back home to get better. The realisation that some of your family members have to go through these economic hardships on a daily basis is not easy to stomach, so for now Durban-based Zimbabweans are focused on working even harder to support any of their loved ones who might need them.”
Chitsa, who has lived in Durban for the past 10 years, has registered to vote and said he would be heading to Zimbabwe at the end of the month to make his mark on the ballot along with other members of his family.
Another Zimbabwean excited at the prospect of voting was Elna Kundishora.
“I was born during the Mugabe era and I honestly thought I would die without seeing actual change,” she said. Kundishora, an attorney, said the vote was crucial as one could not preach about change when one had not done the right thing by exercising one’s right to vote.
She said living in a foreign country was not easy and many Zimbabweans wanted to return home and rebuild the country.
The build-up to the elections has not been smooth sailing. Former Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai died at the beginning of the year after a long fight with cancer. Current president Emmerson Mnangagwa survived what is believed to be an assassination attempt last month when a bomb exploded as he was leaving a rally in Bulawayo.
Election observers from around the world are also expected to descend on the country.
Former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is expected to be part of the delegation of election observers which also includes former UN general secretary Kofi Annan.