Zimbabweans in Jo’burg rejoice as Mugabe Resigns

Spontaneous celebrations by over 2 000 Zimbabweans have erupted in Johannesburg’s inner city following the resignation of their country’s president, Robert Mugabe.

In Yeoville, Zimbabweans waved their flags on the busy Rockey Street and shouted “Mugabe is gone!” as passing cars and taxis hooted in celebration.

“I’m happy he’s gone. It’s because of him I haven’t seen my family in five years, it’s been too long since I’ve been here, ” Trust Ndlovu told the Mail & Guardian on Rockey Street. He left southern Zimbabwe in 2014 and has been unemployed in South Africa, since.

“Now there’s an opportunity to go home, not only to see my family but to get jobs,” Ndlovu said.

A few blocks away on Bekker Street, another group of Zimbabwean friends have started drinking from their boot, waving their flag to passing motorists who hoot and cheer with them. They’re elated that Mugabe has resigned, and believe a new era has dawned.

“The fact that he’s gone means we can express ourselves freely and it means we can go back home and rebuild our country. We can take our skills and build a strong economy,” 28-year-old Obey Manyoni said, his friends and father behind him enjoying drinks while chatting about the 93-year-old’s presidency.

“The resignation allows us to go back home,” Manyoni says before his friend interrupts: “That guy was abusive. I’m from a Ndebele tribe. His police were abusing us, so if we go back they must not do that again.”

Six-storey apartment buildings tower above the men’s celebrations on Bekker street. “About 80% of all these buildings are filled with people from Zimbabwe,” Manyoni explains.

News that Mugabe tendered his resignation to the speaker of the Zimbabwean national parliament on Tuesday afternoon sparked pandemonium in the nation’s capital of Harare. in South Africa, which is home to an estimated three million Zimbabweans, the country’s diaspora rejoiced.

In Johannesburg, the euphoria permeated through the Yeoville, Hillbrow and Berea suburbs which have a large number of residents from other African countries.

Thousands of Zimbabweans descended on Hillbrow’s Claim Street. Fireworks were shot from balconies while people waved the Zimbabwean flag and danced to local music while drinking. Others arrived with their own placards. reading “Zim Free At Last”.

“Finally the tyrant is gone,” Bonging Nkobi says on Claim Street. “Robert Mugabe is gone, his era is over. He’s finished. Let him go die. In two years he will be dead!” he exclaims.

Around him dozens of people have gathered to express the same sentiments. Many of them blame Mugabe for their exile to South Africa.

“I used to be a teacher in Zimbabwe, now I’m a waiter in South Africa. And I’m ashamed to say it, it’s been 10 years. It’s because of him, he messed it all up. I finished school and wanted to study but we had no money because of the economy,” Manyoni said.

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Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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