News / Toronto

Zimbabweans in Canada watching nervously as Mugabe ousted

Some fear even more instability could be ahead for the southern African nation and worry about a remake of the 'brutal, protracted struggle' that led to independence.

Dakarayi Chigugudhlo left Zimbabwe 16 years ago,  Thursday, November 16, 2017.

Eduardo Lima / Metro

Dakarayi Chigugudhlo left Zimbabwe 16 years ago, Thursday, November 16, 2017.

Zimbabweans in Canada are watching anxiously to see if their homeland will erupt in violence or finally set out on the road to democracy and lasting peace.

The country's ruling party fired president Robert Mugabe on Sunday and promised impeachment hearings if he doesn't resign. Emmerson Mnangagwa, the former vice president whose firing nearly two weeks ago led to a military takeover, was named the new party chief.

Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state, has held the balance of power since the country's independence from the U.K. in 1980, a status maintained in part by brutally suppressing his rivals and their supporters.

Throughout that time, Zimbabwe has been plagued by poverty and financial crises. Many worry more instability may be ahead — even without Mugabe, 93, at the helm.

What the country needs is freedom of "choice," said Dakarayi Chigugudhlo, a Torontonian who came to Canada from Zimbabwe in 2001.

“What I want want to see is a free and peaceful election so people can choose the leader they want," she said.

Chigugudhlo said members of her family still in Zimbabwe have shuttered in their homes to stay safe and have not been going to work or getting paid since the military action started.

If peace and stability can be restored, educated people like herself from the Zimbabwean diaspora, could “step back in and rebuild” but such investment won't be possible until corruption is dealt with, Chigugudhlo said.

The most shocking thing was how quickly everything escalated, said Mbonisi Zikhali, 35, who is from Zimbabwe and now lives in Windsor, Ont.

"Many wonder if this will eventually unravel, leading to a violent conflict," he said. "Many who lived through our independence struggle fear this, as it was a brutal, protracted struggle with sad memories."

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