President Robert Mugabe Picture: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)
President Robert Mugabe Picture: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Although Robert Mugabe is no more, his shadow looms large on his Zimbabwean people, who even in death, are scared to speak honestly and openly about the former leader. 

On the streets of Yeoville, Johannesburg, we spoke to some Zimbabwean nationals who now call this Johannesburg suburb, home. 

Some were scared to reveal their identities and speak on camera, fearing they would be "hunted down" by the Zimbabwean authorities for speaking ill of the former statesman. 

And so those of Zimbabwean nationality who did agree to speak, painted Mugabe as a great man who fought for the liberation of his people. 

Elma Ndlovu, who has been living in Johannesburg since 1988, said Mugabe did not consider the future of his people when he took on the establishment, wrecking the Zimbabwean economy. 

“Mugabe was an educated man, he was a graduate of the university of life. But what I can say about him compared to his people in his country, he was never a person who liked white people, he cared about black people. But what I see unfortunately, is that he did not consider his people's futures when he got rid of the white people, because a lot of the things in the economy did not come with us, we had a simple way of life unlike now,” he said.

Ndlovu’s siblings all live in South Africa, only his mother his left back home in Zimbabwe. 

Video: Sihle Mlambo/IOL

Pride Pachirera, a 21-year-old Zimbabwean who lives in Yeoville, came to South Africa last year and works as a waiter in Johannesburg. 

He sends money home to his mother every month, and says the situation back home “is good”, but criticises President Emerson Mnangangwa. 

“Robert Mugabe was a genuine leader, he was a nice guy and he was much better than Mnangangwa because (look at) our country now, I don't know what is going on in our country, but I just want to say President Mugabe (rest in peace),” he said.

Bienvenu Tshiswaka, a 22-year-old Congolese national who was found working at his uncle's yard sale In Yeoville, said Mugabe was a dictator. 

"I think Robert Mugabe was a dictator. I think a lot of people might celebrate him for being there during the hard times, but during his time as president a lot of people never really liked him and what he did. 

“A lot of people will celebrate him as an African for fighting against White Supremacy," he said. 

Angela Oweru, who hails from Nigeria, said she loved only that Mugabe was an educated man. 

Oweru is a gender and youth studies masters student at the University of Limpopo.

“Even though no one is perfect, he had his many shortcomings, but we all make mistakes. 

“Nobody should have the monopoly of knowledge, I think he needed strong people to support him and at the same time I think he was also a selfish leader, he wanted the power and honour to be subscribed to him, and that ultimately affected the country,” she said.

Shephard Mageza, also from Zimbabwe, said he arrived in South Africa six years ago. He works as a security guard and thinks Mugabe was a good leader who did good things in the country during his long tenure as president.

“Robert Mugabe was good on some other things. He left that country in a good way. Yes, now things are going on the wrong way, 

“What I can remember Robert Mugabe for is some of the good things he did. He made inclusive government and there are some things where people say he was wrong on this and that. All over the world, people have differences about their leaders, but on my own way, I see him as an icon, a great icon who was thinking of his people… We cannot blame him,” he said.

IOL

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