15 January 2016

Zimbabwe: Zim No Sweet Home Any Longer


THE old adage that says "there is no place like home" -- which has been popular since 1822 when legendary English lyricist Sir Henry Bishop, composed the song Home! Sweet Home -- resonates with many people the world over.

Sir Henry, the first musician to be knighted, repeats the line "there is no place like home" twice in the three-line chorus.

Words in the song would appeal to many people around the world, but this may not be the case with a large number of Zimbabweans who continue to flee the country seeking greener pastures, thanks to the government's ruinous economic policies.

The story that we carry on Page 2, about the ballooning numbers of Zimbabweans seeking work permits and study visas in South Africa, is a candid indication that the economic deterioration at home is having a huge impact on the lifestyles of people, hence the decision to seek opportunities outside.

In short, the story reveals that the South African embassy in Harare has processed an average of 300 applications a day in 2015 up from 150 in 2014.

This means the embassy is receiving 1 500 applications per week which translates to about 6 000 a month.

The numbers do not include the thousands of Zimbabweans who do not bother with the niceties of work permits and visa applications.

Instead, they choose to either walk or swim across the Limpopo River braving the crocodiles and other inherent dangers that arise as they seek to find a new home.

Since 2000, Zimbabweans have been emigrating to regional countries such as South Africa, Botswana and to places such as the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, but nowadays you can find Zimbabweans in far-flung destinations like Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, China and Latin American countries.

The main reasons for the exodus are political and economic. Larger numbers fled to seek greener pastures as the economy went on a downward spiral, which eventually led to record-breaking hyperinflation of 231 million percent in 2008.

After the stability brought about by the inclusive government, which resulted in some people abroad considering to come back home, Zimbabwe has been hit by a fresh wave of migration due to the new economic pressures.

This kind of migration disrupts the social lives of people who have to struggle with new cultures and value systems.

A lot of Zimbabweans in South Africa, for example, have to battle crime and xenophobic attacks while the millions living there illegally have to play cat and mouse with the police on a daily basis. And even if they were subjected to heinous and barbaric xenophobic attacks, which often lead to death, many still choose not to return home.

There is no worse indictment on the government and country than this. Sadly for Zimbabwe, those applying for permits are skilled and experienced people who could play a critical role in the country's development.

Zimbabwe may never be able to attract back the skilled people who are being frustrated out of the country.

Meanwhile, those in authority seem not bothered too much about the country's economic problems. Their eyes and energy are firmly fixed on succeeding President Robert Mugabe (92 next month), who has clung onto power despite his old age and obvious signs of frailty.

Thus the economic problems are set to continue unabated.

As a result, the exodus will only worsen and many Zimbabweans will not be singing along to Bishop's song of the joys of home anytime soon.


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