Two recent protests at the Zimbabwe Consulate have given a political voice to Zimbabweans based in South Africa.
Zimbabweans that include students from the University of Cape Town, University of Western Cape, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Stellenbosch University marched twice this month to the Zimbabwe consulate to handover petition to the Consulate General.
The first march was attended by Zimbabweans showing solidarity with the #ThisFlag campaign led by Pastor Evan Mawarire while the other one was mainly students from the universities under ZimSoc.
“Surely I used to send money and goods back to Zimbabwe for one of my children and my mother but I have since stopped because of the statutory instrument 64 of 2016,” says Sarudzai Wadi a widow.
The regulations were gazetted under Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 on the 17th of June by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. The stringent regulation is meant to control the importation of goods that are available locally. The goods that have been literally banned include coffee creamers (Cremora), Camphor creams, white petroleum jellies and body creams.
Wadi, 50 was among a group of about 70 Zimbabweans and a few South African youth who marched from the Grand Parade to the Zimbabwean Consulate on Thursday to hand over their memorandum to the consulate.
“This makes me sick every time I think what my child and mother could be feeding on,” she says.
In both memorandums they demanded that the government of Zimbabwe:
- address issues of corruption allegedly by cabinet ministers,
- abandon plans to use bond notes,
- end human rights abuses and police brutality and
- provide jobs for graduates.
Modern Mawoneke a UCT second year law student says, “These are not cosmetic demands. Government needs to take our issues seriously.”
The students expect answers in a week’s time. “If we do not get a response in 7 days then as students we have to map a way forward,” says Mawoneke. Mawoneke plans to go back to work in Zimbabwe after graduating.
The first march was mostly youths waving Zimbabwean flags while others were sporting Movement for Democratic Change T-shirts (Tsvangirai’s), the main opposition party in Zimbabwe.
They sang and danced in front of the consulate office.
”We did not know that there was a march here,” said two elderly women who wanted to renew their passports. They returned home.
But on the second march, consular offices closed for a just short time when students handed over their petition to an official from the consulate.
“My parents were never employed. They used to do cross border trading… and this is how they managed to pay my school fees from primary to secondary schooling,” says Hardman Mafuwa who has been in South Africa since 2008.
Mafuwa has since stopped sending goods home but is not sure how his parents are surviving.
On condition of anonymity a recent Masters graduate from one of Cape Town’s universities says, “My dream is to go and work back home. It is very difficult to get employed in a foreign land. Although my extended family looks after me here in South Africa, during holidays I prefer going to Zimbabwe but now that I cannot take any food stuff it means I no longer can go back home”.
Both her parents passed away several years ago.
Laswet Sayade one of the organizers says, “Statutory instrument 64 of 2016 should be scrapped. It does not make any economic sense to me. I understand the license they are talking of will only be available to the few politically connected
The marchers vowed to continue this course of action until the Zimbabwean government addressed their concerns.