TSHWANE, June 27– Members of the South African African Police Service on Tuesday removed scores of Zimbabwean nationals who were protesting at the embassy in Pretoria, demanding the diaspora vote.
Emotions were high, with the small crowd demanding to be addressed by Zimbabwean ambassador in South Africa Isaac Moyo. They initially refused to hand over a memorandum to two officials who came to address them behind a line of police officers and a locked gate.
After lengthy negotiations, the memorandum was handed to the embassy officials but some in the crowd insisted they would not leave until Moyo addressed them. The embassy staff said Moyo was in Musina, and would not be available to speak to the protesters.
While some of the protesters started walking away voluntarily, others sat down by the main entrance and started sharing a meal of bread and water.
After 1pm, police officers started pushing the protesters off Merton Avenue, ordering them to leave peacefully.
“You can go ahead and arrest us, we are not afraid. We were promised that Isaac Moyo would meet us today. Where is he? Even if you beat us, we will be back,” shouted one protester as he was pushed away by police officers.
Among other demands, the protesters are demanding that the Zimbabwean government facilitates the diaspora vote which enables them to vote in the next elections while in South Africa.
“Our government has failed to take care of us and that is why you find us all over the world. They want money from and they take it through taxes, but they don’t want us to vote. So we are saying allow us to vote in South Africa freely and fairly. That is what we want,” one of the protesters Joe Marikosi who handed over the memorandum.
A group of Zimbabweans based in South Africa and affiliated to the #Tajamuka movement, marched to their embassy in Pretoria, demanding the right to vote in the next election.
Members of the South African Police, including the diplomatic units, were deployed to protect the embassy, the entrance of which was cordoned off with police tape.
The Tshwane Metro Police escorted the protesters as they marched from the Union Buildings to the embassy.
“We demand free and fair elections, send that message to President Robert Mugabe,” chanted one protester at the entrance.
“We demand that Isaac Zimbabwean ambassador Isaac Moyo to come out and address us today. Not anyone else,” another protester said.
– African News Agency (ANA)