Civic organizations in
Botswana recently presented a play highlighting the human rights abuses and
violations Zimbabweans in the country are subjected to. It focuses on the
plight of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, as they continue their search for better
opportunities. Martin Ngwenya saw the play and filed this report.
The play is titled
"Voice of the People". Its main theme tackles the dismal lives and
problems confronting Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, including xeonophobia.
The play features both
Zimbabwean and Botswana actors. It's a frank account of the hardships endured
by immigrants in a new environment. In particular, it zooms in on the suspicion
and mistrust with which Zimbabweans are often viewed in countries like Botswana
and South Africa.
The opening scene portrays a
post on the Zimbabwe/Botswana border. Immigration officials are seen abusing
and belittling Zimbabwean immigrants. Their journey then continues to the
streets of the capital, Gaborone, where foreigners scramble for odd jobs....
only to attract the scorn and wrath of locals. Police harassment is the order
of the day. The play questions the attitudes of law enforcement and government
Meanwhile, the Zimbabweans
yearn for the day when they'll be able to return to their homeland. At the end,
the main characters appeal to the leadership to listen to the "voice of
One Zimbabwean actor, who
requested anonymity, says the drama reflects the views and tribulations of
ordinary Zimbabweans in Botswana.
He says the play is the
result of extensive interviews with Zimbabweans both in Botswana and South
"What we are reflecting," he says,"are
the real issues raised by the people. We carried out interviews before we came
up with the show and we want ordinary people to say yes, these are the issues
that affect us. Leaders are not affected; it is the ordinary person who is
suffering. We hope that at the end of the day, the leaders can hear the voices
of the people on the ground."
The play was part of a
series of activities specifically lined up to focus on human rights abuses.
Other events included a photo
exhibition by Amnesty International featuring images of Zimbabwe in the run-up
to the March 29 elections and the
violence that followed.