JOHANNESBURG – THOUSANDS of Zimbabwean nationals in Gauteng province (South Africa) have thronged streets of Johannesburg in song and dance to celebrate the demise of former President Robert Mugabe at the helm of their country.
They are among millions of people forced into the neighbouring country by the oppressive regime of the beleaguered leader, whose resignation was confirmed on Tuesday.
Streets in Johannesburg resembled a carnival as the Zimbabweans greeted the news with jubilation.
The sound of hooters added to the carnival atmosphere as transport came to a standstill, particularly in Hillbrow, Berea and Yeoville, which are populated mostly by foreign nationals, generally Zimbabweans.
At the corner of Claim and Caroline Streets, hundreds took to the streets, coinciding with peak hour at one of the area’s busiest streets.
Commuter omnibuses had to cut their trips short, some 3 kilometres from their destination at the Noord Street taxi rank in the central business district of Johannesburg.
Some passengers had to complete the trip on foot while a majority of them joined in the celebration.
Revelers hoisted the colourful Zimbabwean flag high, with the sounds of car hooters, music and vuvuzelas blaring.
“Today is a momentous occasion. It’s independence day for the hordes of us that have been forced out of our country. It’s a new beginning,” said Vusumuzi Mhlanga.
There were similar scenes at the corner of Abel and Tudhope Streets in the nearby Berea.
Traffic was also halted, with cars forced to seek alternative routes.
Music reverberated and whistles echoed.
At the adjacent Sonnyboys Bar and Restaurant, Bvuma, the hit track by global superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, interpreted by some as a call to Mugabe to quit, was played on repeat.
Street parties went on late into the night.
“Today heralds the dawn of a new era. We are going back to rebuild our country,” said Butho Sibanda, born in 1980, the same year Mugabe came into power.
An estimated 3 million Zimbabweans have sought refuge in South Africa following economic and political problems blamed on Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.
It passed a vote of no confidence on him, prompting his resignation.
– CAJ News