CANADA: Kamloops resident Richard Kanyangu already has several job titles on his resume, including psychiatric nurse and pastor.
A year from now, he would like to add a third: president of Zimbabwe.
He becomes one of at least three diasporans looking to challenge President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party in crunch general elections next year.
Kanyangu, who left the country of his birth in 1995 to study in the United Kingdom, said he has taken the necessary steps to have his name on the ballot for the presidency of the in 2018.
“I’m expecting it to be five or six names [on the ballot],” he said.
Kanyangu’s co-workers at Royal Inland Hospital, the congregation at House of Destiny church and even his sons’ teachers know about his ambitions. Now he’s hoping to spread the word to millions of people in Zimbabwe.
This, despite the fact he has founded a grassroots party with limited money.
Mugabe has led the country for 36 years and his wife recently mused he could win an election from the grave.
The country has struggled with hyperinflation that resulted in issuance of a 100-trillion dollar note a decade ago. Under sanctions, the country is one of the world’s economic basket-cases, along with North Korea and Venezuela.
“We have people on the ground with us who are hoping to mobilise and get the word around,” said Kanyangu, who is on a work permit to Canada and going through the process to become a permanent resident. His wife and three sons, age 10, 6 and 15 months, live in Kamloops with him.
Kanyangu, 41, is planning to leave for Zimbabwe in June and stay in the country during the run-up to the election in the first quarter of next year. He won’t be taking his family with him, acknowledging he is taking a safety risk.
Opposition supporters have been beaten by paramilitary gangs “from the overzealous supporters of the incumbent,” he acknowledged.
“There are people in the (ruling) party who believe no one should oppose them.”
Thus far, Kanyangu has been busy with remote organisation and holding public events locally and in Vancouver. There are an estimated 3.5 million people from Zimbabwe living in other countries, a force he wants to tap for organization and fundraising.
“I think everyone knows I’m involved now,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Guys at work know, people at the church know and even my son’s teacher knows — he’s been telling her about it.”