Robert Mugabe's resignation brings hope for ex-pats

Dominic Wali.
Dominic Wali.

The streets of Zimbabwe are heaving with celebrations in the wake of the resignation of its dictator president, Robert Mugabe, overnight.

It’s a welcome relief for the people of a country which has been permanently scarred by years of poverty and torture.

Mugabe’s 37-year reign has crumbled in recent days, following a military takeover, with the shock announcement of his departure pre-empting his impeachment by the Zimbabwean parliament. 

Mugabe had refused to step down even after being expelled on Sunday from Zanu-PF, the political party he had led for decades.

Then on Tuesday, members of Zanu-PF introduced a motion of impeachment, invoking a constitutional process that had never before been tested.

Shortly after, the speaker of the parliament, Jacob Mudenda, read out a letter in which Mugabe said he was stepping down “with immediate effect” for “the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and the need for a peaceful transfer of power”.

And while Zimbabweans on home soil can barely contain their excitement, ex-pats across the globe are also reveling in the news which they hope will bring about long overdue reforms for their home country.

Tanunda’s Dominic Wali is one such ex-pat.

“Everyone’s happy – besides him and his followers, they’re not very happy about it,” he said.

As news of Mugabe’s resignation broke on Tuesday night, Dom said his whole Facebook newsfeed was full of celebrations.

With locals swarming the streets in jubilation, it’s safe to say there’s one hell of a party going on.

“Oh yeah, I wish I was there,” Dom said.

“They’re just celebrating, having fun… because we are very religious I’d say a lot of people are going to church, because their prayers have finally been answered.”

So how would Dom celebrate if he were there?

“I wouldn’t know what to do (to celebrate)… they’re just out on the streets partying all night!

“Because 37 years, that’s like a whole generation; some people have never lived to see that, just lived under oppression.”

Dom migrated to Australia for “better opportunities” in early 2009 under the sponsorship of his sister.

He has two other siblings in South Africa, while his mother remains in Zimbabwe.

“Back home, there was no life, no prospects of work.

“Mugabe pretty much ran the country into the ground.”

His greatest concern living under Mugabe’s rule was the oppression of Zimbabweans’ rights.

“We couldn’t voice our own opinion. We had MDC (Movement for Democratic Change), the opposition party, come into effect in the mid 90s just to try to have that voice, but they were still suppressed.”

But while there are celebrations now, Dom admits it’s hard to say what will happen next.

With former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa – who was sacked by Mugabe earlier this month, prompting a military takeover – tipped to be sworn in as the new president, will things be any better?

“You tell me,” Dom said.

“In 2000 they tried to impeach (Mugabe), but that was thrown out. So the people that brushed it away are still part of the remaining people inside. The party hasn’t changed, these are the people who aligned with him for the country to be where it is.

“Are you telling me that in the past few years he (Mnangagwa) didn’t see this happening, in terms of the country going down? He could have stepped up and said something, this could have been done in 2000 when they wanted to impeach him – they could have done it, but they didn’t.”

Dominic 'The Dom' Wali in action for Tanunda Hockey Club. He played provincial hockey at home in Zimbabwe.

Dominic 'The Dom' Wali in action for Tanunda Hockey Club. He played provincial hockey at home in Zimbabwe.

With elections penciled in for next year, Dom is hopeful they will be fair, and that Mnangagwa will be a better leader.

“I’m just hoping that our human rights are actually acknowledged, that people can voice their opinion and there will be a free election in 2018,” he said.

“Only then I think Zimbabweans will feel safer, security wise and peace; we’re lovely people, we’re peaceful, that’s why I think there wasn’t a lot of violence or anything.

“There’s celebrations, but uncertainty about the future; is it going to be any better or worse?

“We are happy now but I think once the party’s over, people are going to be like okay, where do we go?”

With numerous sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe over the years, Dom hopes other countries may reassess and lift some of these to allow outside investment, economic growth and job creation.

But while there is hope, a cloud will remain over many families.

“Him (Mugabe) getting out of the picture, it still doesn’t give people justice,” Dom said.

“I knew people whose families were murdered and stuff like that.

“A lot of people’s lives were lost at his hands and he could have done something about it, he just never did.”

This story Hope in sight for Zimbabwe nationals first appeared on Barossa & Light Herald.