16 November 2017

Zimbabwe: 'Welcome to a New Zimbabwe' - Optimism On the Streets of Harare

As the Zimbabwean military entered the streets of Harare this week, citizens were overcome with a sense of fear and trepidation.

But that fear soon turned into whispers of a possibility of a new era for the country.

An era without President Robert Mugabe - who has ruled the country for 37 years.

On Thursday, the city had a faint sheen of normalcy, and it seemed to carry-on as if it was any other week day with people rushing to work - if not for the tanks interspersed throughout the CBD.

The stern and intimidating look of the soldiers on their tanks, and the roads blocked off near the Presidential Office, however, didn't interrupt people from their daily activities.The world has followed the events in the country with bated breath - after Mugabe was placed under house arrest, and rumours spread of the possibility of him stepping down.

"It's interesting times. We've been waiting for it for a long time. What I can tell you is most of the people, they are happy about the situation so far. It is long overdue," said a taxi driver who only identified himself as Blacks.

He has been living in Harare for the past 37 years and said it is the most hopeful he has seen his fellow citizens in a long time.

"What we like about the [army] generals is that they are saying the press must be free and report without fear or favour," he said.

On Thursday, newspaper vendors in the city were overwhelmed by people trying to read the front pages.

Another man who only wanted be identified as Admire said he hoped Mugabe's possible removal will create opportunities for the people.

"I am hoping the situation will create some jobs," he said.

Admire said he had been unemployed since the year 2000. Having to look after a wife and two children, he has been trying to make ends meet by doing whatever he could.

"People are feeling that something is happening, but otherwise the situation is like every other day."

Admire said he hoped "the law will take its course" against any official who had been found guilty of corruption.

Speaking to people on the street, the sense is that there is a positive change coming.

Passers-by are optimistic, welcoming people "to a new Zimbabwe".Another man, who only wanted to be identified as Elton, said he believed it "was high time" Mugabe left his position.

"What I am hoping for is a better Zimbabwe. A better country where I can live, where I can work, where I can earn a salary," he said.

Elton said he hoped that the talks about a transitional government will include Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of opposition party the MDC, former vice president Joice Mujuru, and recently fired vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa will restore stability to the country.

"We want Zimbabwe to be embraced by the international community, and not be isolated like we have been because of one man and his wife," he said.

Elton said he was angry at Mugabe over the death of his sister last year.

"My sister was born under Mugabe's rule and she died under Mugabe's rule. Medication was hard to come by. She might have seen the new Zimbabwe if things were different."

Hennie Nieuwenhuizen, who was born in South Africa but has been living in Zimbabwe for the last 68 years, said he believed people had mixed feelings about what was happening.

"I think there... [are] double feelings. They are happy for Grace leaving, but they are fearful for what the future holds," he said.

Nieuwenhuizen said he had heard rumours about Mnangagwa's alleged cruelty as a leader.

"No one really knows [what's happening]. It's been very secretive, no one can really do anything or say anything because of intimidation," he said.

Source: News24

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