Although indescribable scenes of jubilation took centre stage at Galo mall in Francistown Tuesday evening as news broke that Zimbabwe’s long time ruler in Robert Gabriel Mugabe had stepped down, it was the direct opposite at Dukwi Refugee Camp. Zimbabwean refugees and asylum seekers currently housed at Dukwi camp – some 100km northwest of Francistown – could not indulge in wild celebrations following Mugabe’s long awaited downfall. Refugees are prohibited from being involved in political activities of both the host nation and country origin. However, in the case of Zimbabwean refugees, it was not about adhering to the policy of non-political activism. The Patriot on Sunday has since established that some of the refugees are skeptical about political developments in Zimbabwe. Information gathered has established that some of the refugees at Dukwi are not seeing the light at the end of tunnel. Zimbabwean refugees fled to Botswana around 2007/08 escaping from deepening political persecution perpetrated by Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) - Patriotic Fund (PF) activists and militia. Although it was quickly assumed that the Zimbabwean refugees were running away from Mugabe, it has since emerged that the sanctuary seekers from the northern neighbor were fleeing from persecution by the ZANU PF system. “We did not really run away from Mugabe as an individual. There are two to three things that led us to run away from Zimbabwe,” said the chairperson for the Refugees Welfare Committee, Bhekimpilo Weza, a Zimbabwean refugee himself.
He explained: “The main reason why Zimbabweans decided to flee from their country is the system that ZANU PF was employing before, during and after the election process in Zimbabwe.” According to Weza, Mugabe was probably the third or last reason why Zimbabweans fled from their motherland. He said a number of Zimbabwean refugees were tortured and persecuted by the suspected ZANU PF militia and activists. “Most of us were opposition activists. And we were persecuted for supporting the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change),” said Weza. He added that the situation is a complicated one for Zimbabwean refugees. Weza said the Zimbabwean refugees will adopt a wait-and-see approach. He said the Zimbabweans can only decide on whether to return home or not after next year’s elections scheduled for August 2018. “We have to find out whether the new President Emmerson Mnangagwa is prepared to change the system, create political tolerance and ensure that Zimbabwe becomes a democratic country once again,” quipped Weza.