Image: A statue of Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo.
Sibusiso Nkomo, Afrobarometer's communications coordinator for Southern Africa. He is based in Cape Town.
Usually a communications officer at the core partner office has to oversee the communications work taking place at national partner level after survey in terms of backstopping, support and training where needed. Also you are required to attend at least one of the events to assess ability and provide technical assistance.
On 20-22 May 2015, I attended the last event for the Round 6 survey in Zimbabwe on the performance of elected leaders, opposition parties; elections; Zimbabwe’s foreign relations; and migration in Southern Africa.
As one of the strongest teams in the network, the Afrobarometer national partner, Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) organized and hosted the event in Zimbabwe’s second city, Bulawayo. The MPOI team organized a well attended event and it was so boisterous it lasted four hours. The Mayor of Bulawayo attended, various stakeholders from civil society, interested politicians and many others. Also to my surprise, a member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police officer attended to make sure the meeting did not turn into a protest and MPOI had had to seek permission to host the dissemination event. Later we also found out that an government intelligence operative also attended and it was not clear what his role was at the meeting, but it left an ominous feeling in the room.
In terms of Bulawayo, when you walk around the city, you can see how great an industrial city it used to be and how these days the streets are not as busy and infrastructure is suffering – it really is sad to see how people are struggling, you see people growing vegetables and maize in their backyards just to survive. But there is a glimmer of hope in the attitude of the people in Bulawayo and if you walk up Joshua Nkomo Street where you find Father Zimbabwe’s statue, you find a symbol of a hopeful future and an inspiration to go forward.