A Dream shattered



FRANCISTOWN -Problems in following announcement of presidential election
results has struck different chords on all citizens of Zimbabwe.
But since one man's food is another man's poison, some have benefited from
the political strife while for others the fight to survive has seen them
trekking to other countries.

For 19 year old Easter Sibanda, his future is uncertain.

At such a tender age, he has had to abandon school, ditch his family,

traverse through thick forests at night, and sleep in a police cell for the

first time so as to preserve his life.

When you hear you are on the targeted list of Zimbabwean war veterans you

can not afford to think twice. You run for your life, Sibanda says in an

interview at the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants.

His dreams of becoming a successful farmer have been shattered by the latest

developments.

I have always had a big interest in farming having been influenced by the

way I grew up. Even at school my best subject was agriculture and I passed

it with flying colours, says the young man from Plumtree, Zimbabwe.

Before the presidential and parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe six weeks

ago, Sibanda was a form three student at Mqokolweni High School in Plumtree.

He used to spend his leisure time feeding his poultry, branding cattle or

cultivating his small backyard vegetable garden.

Now the fate of the fourth born in a five-sibling family is not clear.

Coming from a family that was once successful in livestock farming, in a

country that was once the breadbasket of Southern Africa, Sibanda has never

fathomed his life outside agriculture.

We reared a sizeable herd of cattle at home and I was the man in charge of

them. Through selling livestock to butcheries in town we managed to put

bread on the table. And although it seldom rains nowadays, we grew crops and

have managed to survive so far without spending too much on buying food, he

says.

He is now in Francistown awaiting the outcome of his application for refugee

status, while his farming ambitions have now gone into oblivion.

We have always had hardships back home but this time around it was just

unbearable, he says as he reminisces events that led to his arrival in

Botswana.

In his own words, Sibanda escaped political persecution by just a whisker.

He is an active youth of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)

and he believes he was targeted by the ruling ZANU-PF militia in a post

election crackdown.

What adds salt to injury is the fact that although he registered for

elections, his name did not appear in the voters roll during election time.

While MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled an unexpected win over ZANU-PFs

Robert Mugabe during a presidential poll in March, a run off is mandatory

because none of the two managed a fifty per cent majority.

Indications are that a run off will not occur any time soon as a senior

government minister has said on record that it may take up to a year for a

run off to take place.

Now supporters of Mugabes party want to reduce the oppositions numbers

through intimidation, torture and all forms of persecution, the ambitious

farmer reasons.

Sibanda captures vividly one incident during election campaigns when one of

the pro ZANU war veterans warned him saying you think you are too clever,

you will go to the grave with your wisdom soon.

However the last straw that broke the camels back was on April 30th when a

friend leaked news to him that he was targeted by war veterans.

I believed him because his father is a war veteran and he is known for

terrorizing anti ZANU supporters.

The war veterans had reportedly held a meeting where they compiled a list of

all those considered sell outs. I did not even know when they were to

attack, Sibanda says.

Three hours later Sibanda plus other four boys were on an uncertain voyage

through the forest en route to Botswana.

We travelled the whole night from Plumtree until we jumped the border fence

into Botswana. We reached a village called Senyawe and presented ourselves

to the police.

Sibanda sadly remembers his mother sobbing uncontrollably when he broke the

leaked news that he was targeted.

But that was the best thing I could do and mother understood the situation.

Once you are on their list, you never know when they will strike.

Up to present day, Sibanda does not know the condition of his mother and

younger sister plus the herd of cattle they kept.

I have not managed to communicate with them yet, I do not know whether war

veterans have killed them also, but I believe God has protected them, he

says with hope.

All what Sibanda longs for right now is to be declared a refugee and start

life afresh.

May be I could go back to school and do my agriculture studies. I still

believe farming has not eluded me completely. BOPA

Post published in: News

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