Zim immigrants in Catch-22

HARARE - To be or not to be is the opening phrase of a dialogue in the “Nunnery Scene” of William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.

In the speech, a despondent Prince Hamlet contemplates death and suicide. He bemoans the pains and unfairness of life but acknowledges the alternative might be still worse.

This is the predicament many Zimbabweans in neighbouring South Africa (SA) find themselves in, following the resurgence of xenophobic attacks.

While other clichés like the proverbial “stuck between a rock and a hard place” may apply to this situation, many self-exiled people in places such as Durban, would rather “stick it out” than return to President Robert Mugabe’s economic hellhole.

Obey, a 41-year-old Durban-based Zimbabwean migrant who is an engineer by profession, vowed to stay in the neighbouring country until such a time when he can be assured of a better life back home.

  “For starters I had reasons why I left Zimbabwe. Has the situation changed in Zimbabwe since I left? The answer is NO!” Obey mused.

“If I come home now, where do I start? What will I do, how will I survive? Yes, the situation is bad here for now, but I still have a job. I am expecting a salary next week. I have bills to pay. Most of the assets I have are still bonded with financial houses. Should I leave now, I will lose everything I have worked for all these years.”

Most Zimbabweans have married in South Africa, either locals or fellow Zimbabweans. The current situation has made them reconsider about their families.

“My family have never been to Zimbabwe, my kids don’t speak my language but their friend’s language,” Obey said.

Many find themselves in Obey’s  dilemma and the question is what choice do they have?

Chipo, based in Pietermaritzburg, said no amount of coercion will see her return home soon and vows to relocate to other parts of South Africa where there is no violence, than return home.

Up to two million Zimbabweans, most of them illegal migrants, are estimated to be domiciled in South Africa, with the locals routinely blaming them for not just squeezing them out of scarce job opportunities, but also engaging in crime.

Zimbabweans living in South Africa say it is difficult to come back home when the country is still facing an economic crunch.

Anna, a Durban-based mother of two, said she will “lie low” until such a time when the situation gets better than hurriedly trek back home.

“As long as Mugabe is still in power, it would be difficult for me to come back home,” she said.

MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora condemned the rise of the attacks on foreign nationals and called on the SA government to crackdown on the forces behind the onslaught.

“These attacks are unfair and selfish,” he said.

“Zimbabweans are running from a dictator whose evil machinery is killing them. It would be a double jeopardy if the same Zimbabweans are being persecuted within a country where they had gone to seek refuge. We therefore call upon the SA government to crack down on these criminals.”

Japhet Moyo, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general, said the government of Zimbabwe was also to blame for the poor economy that drove citizens to South Africa to take up menial jobs.

“Why is it that our people are flooding to SA looking for jobs?” Moyo said.

“This points to the breakdown of our economy.”

Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said government has decided that Zimbabweans wishing to return home be facilitated to do so immediately.

He said an inter-ministerial team has been established that would put in place resources necessary for this exercise, in close liaison with the Zimbabwean Ambassador in South Africa.

According to presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, Zimbabweans living in SA are being protected from xenophobic attacks by the South African government and Zimbabwean embassies.

Charamba said, “The matter was discussed between the two presidents, President Robert Mugabe and President Jacob Zuma at their recent meeting. We have two consular generals that look at the welfare of Zimbabweans in SA, one is in Cape Town and another is in Johannesburg.

“These will reinforce efforts of our embassies to make sure that our citizens are checked on. Our government has an obligation to make sure visitors and guest workers are safe and the South African government is alive to do this and can also act likewise.”

“Whenever you have a situation of violence given the number of our people in SA, citizens will become anxious until there is no more violence,” Charamba said.

Comments (4)

'Tinouya kana Mugabe ayenda'. Ndikokuti chii ikoko. Anoenda kupi iwe uriikoko. Anoyendeswa nani.

bln - 21 April 2015

@bin. It is better to come and suffer ekhaya than to risk being murdered by the raging impis.

DM - 21 April 2015

Mr mwonzora speak like a senior party official of a government in waiting. Please!!!!!!!!! How could you expect to win an election when you urge your voters to remain awol? Zimbos are running away from another phobia to another phobia how doyou justify that? Has the situation changed for them? What is worse the mugabe phobia and xeno?who will sacrifice himself to be the saviour seeing as it is that you all guys are afraid and bent on paying scant regard to issues warranting more than that?

Rafael santos - 21 April 2015

Mugabe and Zpf are worse than the rabid and rampaging Zulus.In 2008 this Mugabe oldie slaughtered more than 200 innocent fellow Zimbabweans of his simply because they supported the opposition.He displaced millions who are are now under xenophobic attacks in SA.Mugabe and his Zpf activists killed innocent women,men and children in brutal ways,some where first raped before being killed with knives ,logs or guns,some were hacked to death with axes at base/torture camps in front of their relatives and loved ones,some were burnt alive until they died,some had their limps chopped off, some were thrown into disused mines while others were forced to take extremely poisonous cotton and tobacco pesticides until they died.Mugabe and everyone in Zpf should introspect and conclude that what they did was the worst form of inhuman treatment.These fellow Zimbabweans in SA do not know what to do now,to return home where they were forced to flee in the first place or to remain in SA where they are again not sure what would happen to their lives.Mugabe's call to SA to stop xenophobia is hollow because he is also a perpetrator of sadistic violence.It is like asking a mosquito to go and treat a patient of malaria.I can not even talk of the genocide of the 1980s in the Matabeleland and Midlands where an orgy of senseless slaughter of humanity was witnessed.

Cde Dokora - 21 April 2015

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