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ELECTION FALLOUT

Zimbabweans on march in Pretoria call for free and fair polls and for embassy to ‘shut down’

Zimbabweans on march in Pretoria call for free and fair polls and for embassy to ‘shut down’
Zimbabweans protest outside the embassy of Zimbabwe in Pretoria on 8 September 2023. (Photo: Naledi Sikhakhane)

A small crowd of disgruntled Zimbabwean migrants marched to the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria on Friday, calling for free and fair elections – they also pointed out that the embassy and Zimbabwean consulates in South Africa do not serve the migrant community and should therefore shut down.

The march by about 35 people was sparked by President Emmerson Mnangagwa winning a second and final term in office in the 23 August elections.

One of the marchers, Elizabeth Ezaya (49), said she is hoping for a solution from the Zimbabwean embassy, the Southern Africa Development Community and the African Union that will result in free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

“On the 23rd of August we went there to vote. In Chithumbisa, many policemen came and harassed us. The ballot papers came late at seven and we cannot understand what kind of election is that,” said Ezaya.

Read more in Daily Maverick: SADC’s election report leaves Mnangagwa desperately out in the cold with only one option — reform

Ezaya said if Zimbabwe was economically and politically stable, she would be living in her home country. She is a domestic worker and has to be away from two of her children back home.

She said the poor march turnout was due to fears of being arrested. 

“Some are struggling with documents and police are here, so that’s why they didn’t come even though thousands support this. People want to go home but we can’t in the situation it is in… so many of our family members got killed by Zanu-PF,” she added.

Zimbabweans

Zimbabweans protest outside of the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Pretoria. 08 September 2023. (Photo: Naledi Sikhakhane)

Zimbabweans

Zimbabweans protest outside their consulate in Cape Town on 8 September 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

Talent Rusere, the leader of the Economic Revolutionary Alliance, which organised the march, has been instrumental in mobilising Zimbabweans in South Africa who are against human rights violations and unfair elections. He echoed Ezaya’s sentiments and said the elections were rigged.

“The rigging started with the registration – people were registered in different areas at the same time and that wasn’t rectified. The electoral commission only provided ballot papers at 7pm. Where have you seen that? 

The papers were also way less than the people present at the voting station, How can you provide 150 papers when the station caters to about 3,000 people?” he said.

Even the elite in Zimbabwe fly to China just to get a Panado – we don’t have that money, we come here.

Rusere said they want another election – a fair one this time.

He claimed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had been captured and allowed Zanu-PF to set up a desk with party branding at voting stations, among other things

No one from the embassy arrived to address the crowd, but it did send a message saying somebody would come only to accept a memorandum. Rusere said they hadn’t prepared a memorandum because that would legitimise the embassy which serves the ruling party and not the best interests of migrants.

“These people in here won’t even come to address us yet they are supposed to represent us here. This is a Zanu-PF thing, we can’t legitimise them, they must just shut down,” said Rusere 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Zimbabwe Elections 2023

Another marcher, Temba Makaure, said South African leaders should stand against the “rigged” election.

“We are here illegally because we are running away from the disaster Mnangwangwa has caused. You arrest us almost every day. You are the first who should say no, we don’t support this, Zimbabwe fix your things. It’s high time South Africa says no!” said an impassioned Makaure. 

“We voted for the president of our choice, Chamisa. South Africa has to deal with us who are here illegally because it is tough in Zimbabwe. We saw Poppy Ramathuba embarrassing that patient, but even the elite in Zimbabwe fly to China just to get a Panado – we don’t have that money, we come here,” said Makaure. 

The Zimbabwean consulate in Cape Town. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

Rusere has thousands of followers on social media who often engage in discussions about Zimbabwean sociopolitical issues. He estimates there are 13,000 supporters on platforms such as WhatsApp.

He claims he is now a target due to his campaign to highlight injustice in Zimbabwe, and has moved from his residence to an undisclosed location.

Rusere sent images and voice notes to Daily Maverick of a woman speaking in Shona, explaining that a hitman has his information, stolen passport and work documents. He alleges that this is due to his work in mobilising Zimbabweans in the diaspora. DM

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