With the passing of Zimbabwe's former President, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the southern African country once again came under the spotlight. Questions about how good (or how bad) Mugabe's legacy was have been asked, and depending on who you ask, Zimbabwe is or was a great country or a horrible country. The same mixed sentiment applies especially if you ask South Africans about Robert Mugabe.
As such, I thought it best to catch up and talk to someone who I think has a better experience and understanding of Zimbabwe than myself. I've known Emmanuel Banda for several years as a waiter at one of my favorite restaurants that I frequent. But more than being a waiter, Emmanuel is also the director responsible for elections and recruiting for MDC (Movement For Democratic Change) in South Africa.
Emmanuel was born in Bulawayo in 1981 and he grew up in the dusty streets of Mabutweni in Mpopoma, where he also went to school.
His story of growing up in Bulawayo and noticing the changes as life got harder in Zimbabwe and eventually fleeing to South Africa provides a rather nuanced perspective of life during the late 1990s up until 2007. In his words, he has witnessed a country go from prosperity to no food on store shelves, more importantly, he has sadly observed as his friends and colleagues “disappeared” and were killed.
Emmanuel also touches on how it is to live in South Africa as a Zimbabwean especially considering reports of xenophobia against foreign nationals in September 2019.