Injiva's bleak festive season

BULAWAYO - The age-old tradition when Christmas brought palpable excitement  among Zimbabweans is gradually losing its twinkle.

Tradition had it that this time of the year the second largest city of Bulawayo would go abuzz with the blue and white South African vehicle number plates. 

Not anymore. Even for the returning Zimbabwean working in South Africa who had  earned the nickname injiva for their spendthrift habits, the flashy life they were accustomed to seem to have lost its spark.
These are part of an estimated three million Zimbabweans who have sought  economic refuge abroad with an estimated 400 000 of them in South Africa alone, the majority being comprising a majority from Matabeleland region.

These normally clutter the Beitbridge and Plumtree border posts as hordes of holidaymakers make their way back home temporarily for  Christmas. 

While they have turned Africa’s number one economy as their second  home, injiva have never forgotten where they come from.

Perhaps, a sense of  nostalgia and home-sickness drives them back home hence their influx  at this time of the year. 

This is probably the only conducive period where they can reunite and  make merry with families, relatives and friends after a tough year.

Never mind how some of them have traditionally relied on illegally skipping the border to and from; never mind about the kind of life they lead in that country or the kind of work they do.

Instead think about what sages mean when they say home is best and there can  only be one home.

At one point when the injiva were returning home, the rand which then had more value than our Zimbabwean dollar made them one envy of many; their exciting adventurous stories prompted a wave of unemployed  youngsters to cross the border and pour into South Africa’s vibrant economy.

Seeing them speed past noisily (some in rented vehicles) with car radios blaring to attract attention, sent a signal of  their presence.

Flaunting these temporary acquisitions became one  of their trademarks.

But as the city streets are now clogged by vehicles mostly the grey imports from Japan, few turn their attention to injiva now.

Their power has been eroded by the fall of the South African  currency against the US dollar now adopted locally as official tender.

Most of the injiva have engaged in a cat and mouse chase with the  police due to their rowdy behaviour and flagrant flouting of traffic  laws.

Their stubborn rudeness at drinking joints has been witnessed through  imitation of the violent culture they have adopted from their sojourn  where being macho equates to “talking tough and boorish”.

With the increase in volumes of traffic on our local roads, it has  become so difficult to notice the injivas save for the malayitshas  (couriers) who are conspicuous by their huge trailer loads from across  the Limpopo.

Besides, it is the fall on the black market of the Rand against the United States dollar that we now use in the country that seems to have  taken the sheen out of the once glamorous injiva.

Back then, for instance in 2007 and 2008 a hundred rand would convert  into a lot of money in local currency.

This gave injiva an edge over  rival suitors and made their life a little bit easier during their short stay back home.

The introduction of the multi-currency regime in 2009 was bad news to them.
By time of going to press the dollar was a bit a higher than the  rand a move which is likely to prevail up until the festive season if  not permanently. 

The injiva might find solace in some few shops where the Rand converts  at par with the US dollar. 

But the tricky cross-rate has only been popular here in Bulawayo for reasons which some analysts have attributed to the city’s proximity  with Botswana and South Africa.

While osiphatheleni (informal money changers) who spoke to the Daily News expressed joy at the peak of their business at this time of the  year, the injiva described the current rating in Bulawayo as day  light robbery.

“This is our time when others are busy rushing to holidays; we are busy spinning cash here,” said Christina Bhebhe, a money changer  operating from the area adjacent to Tredgold Building.

“This is the only period we are assured of better profits as many people from outside the country back home so we have to  maximise on that.”

But one of the injiva who only identified himself as Kholwani had no  kind words for Bulawayo people.

“We love to come home every time but the way we are treated by amapostoli (money exchangers) is not fair.
They feast on our hard earned cash. For every R100 rand that I have I was told to add R2 in exchange for $10,” he lamemted.

“Surprisingly, I am told this is not the case in Gweru or Harare where there is little madness when it comes to exchange rates. We people in Bulawayo always complain of being marginalised but we contribute to that by supressing our own.”

The depreciation of the rand in Bulawayo has even spilled to the airtime vendors who demand R2 additional money whenever one uses $10 to buy time.

And this has not been received well by the brothers and sisters plying their trade across the Limpopo.

“It is now tough my brother, while many have been saying things are now affordable in Zimbabwe, we should stop buying goods from SA to avoid incurring transport expenses, to me It does not make sense because things are just tough here,” said Sibonokuhle Mkhize, who is based in Pretoria.

“You come home you get these funny charges and expenses now it’s the  dollar above the rand and you can imagine how difficult it is to budget for the family. I would rather buy my stuff there before I come for Christmas.  It’s better,” she said.

Mkhize said the prevailing situation in the country was a sign of a bleak economic future. 

Another injiva based in Johannesburg, Xolani Ndlovu, said colleagues in South Africa were no longer prepared to come back home during the festive season preferring to send groceries due to the poor economic performance in the country.

Comments (7)

Its cheaper to buy your groceries in south Africa if your are earning your money there. I spent like R2000 rands for a 3-4 month groceries - that back home you cant do. factor in bus fare at 800 rands to and for. it still cheap!

xx - 24 December 2013

Since when did the rand trade at par with the US dollar. Point of correction , its actually 1USD= 10rand. this is not at par, the US dollar is a much stronger currency , i.e 10 times stronger.

hondo - 30 December 2013

Since when did the rand trade at par with the US dollar. Point of correction , its actually 1USD= 10rand. this is not at par, the US dollar is a much stronger currency , i.e 10 times stronger.

hondo - 30 December 2013

Nomatter how you try to demean the South African economy, they remain the biggest in Africa. I am a Zimbabwean working in South Africa and it is way better than at home. The author is jealosy of people who are earning their living in South Africa. US dollars are not even for Zimbabwe and you have compare it with rands as if its your currency? Where is the Zim dollar? If i come to ZImbabwe will I be able to earn $5 000.00 a month? Ncxa

Joyce Mujuru - 3 January 2014

The writer has issues with injiva but personally I feel they are still visible and enjoying big time.

Busto - 7 January 2014

Why would someone attach the writer: he is just expressing a fact clear to .... you don't need to be a rocket scientist to agree with the scribe. @Hondo - that seems to be a joke; thats a good one :). Why should you have kombis going for USD$1 + ZAR2 (round trip in Bulawayo); the major factors affecting them (tranporters) are the same as e.g Harare - the fuel, service kits, generally everything is USD$ based - fuel companies are largely from Harare, etc? City - Chitungwiza is $1 for round trip offpeak yet you have Byo demanding extra R2. Lets be honest with each other bafowethu this is no progress for UNthuthu. These kombi fares have a ripple effect affecting things like the choosing of venues for things like National scale events (not Gvt - Gvt has some fair distribution criteria maybe - but I said National scale); music shows, concerts, etc. Let us keep up UBUNTU njengozulu' omuhle. And finally hates of to BCC (Bulawayo City Council) for upholding the best city standards in Zimbabwe (I have GlobeZimtrotted and have 'primary' proof). I saw BCC guys collect a dead canine within a day of residents reporting the issue and other issues - I was astounded - I felt like teleported back to 19 something!

Uya - 10 January 2014

can people from zimbabwe go to other countries on holiday , send money for school fees , groceries for children who are not even their own. i love zimbabwe baba big time, but in zimbabwe something that are for the rich are standard in south africa for a general worker ie corn flakes every morning, sausage with breakfast, blacklabel whisky,dstv, mcdonalds ,etc, SOME PLEASE FIX MY COUNTRY PLEASE FIX ZIMBABWE

zimbabwe - 10 January 2014

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