Why are you still in Zimbabwe?

So many people I know have a love-hate relationship with this country we call home. One day you wake up minding your own business and super patriotic then the few individuals who run this teapot country just hit you with a blow which can send you looking for the next best country to migrate to. There are two types of Zimbabweans migrating overseas. The academics who spent sleepless nights studying and went on to graduate but are either not getting paid what their work is worth or are simply bragging about a 9-5 that is not necessarily what they set off to do when they finished school. Then there is the fed up group which has either never worked in their life or know that without an education then these streets are hella going to be tough and unkind to them. Do not get me wrong, I know people who dropped out of college and some who never bothered to further their education after high school, who made it. There is also the group that sees the green grass all around and never dream of relocating. Whichever group one is in after 4 decades of Zanu Pf rule, the country has many leaving the country in search of greener pastures.

The exodus of Zimbabweans is not something new as the country has ever since been under the worst management  since the day the ownership papers were transferred from the colonial masters to the local men. I put the word ownership as that is exactly what it is, from colonial rule to Zanu Pf rule the country has never been ours but just for a few elite. In the early 2000’s aunts, mothers and grandmothers became what we called “cross boarder traders”. All in a bid to make a living and bring food to the table. Some would stay in neighbouring countries like South Africa and Botswana selling different wares, sending money back home. Houses were built, children taken to school and bread put on the table. However some argue how much these women were selling their wares for to be able to afford all that but however they did it is a story for another day.

According to statistics, close to a million Zimbabweans are living as immigrants in South Africa thus accounting for about a quarter of the immigrant population. As the southern neighbour is also dealing with poverty and unemployment tension has risen with reports of xenophobic attacks on the migrants in the country. Imagine waiting for that one opportunity to leave your birth country only to be burnt alive because someone believes you are taking what is rightfully theirs. This issue of jobs and access to business opportunities has led to an operation dubbed “Operation Dudula” which is meant to have South Africans take back what is rightfully theirs. Operation Dudula has since sent many migrants packing and returning to their home countries. However the majority have remained in South Africa holding on to some hope that the violence will not affect them. South African authorities granted about 180,000 Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) but stopped renewing them and announced a June deadline for Zimbabweans to either get a critical skills visa or leave the country. This could mean that we are yet to experience a massive exodus of Zimbabweans from South Africa moving back to their home country.

Forget South Africa and other neighboring countries for a bit. Many Zimbabweans, even those who had migrated to South Africa have flocked to the United Kingdom under the Health Care visa over the last few years. I am sure Red Cross Zimbabwe, St John’s  and the other institutions have been at their busiest. One’s birth country is so bad that they would rather go on and be the one to take an old person to the bathroom and get paid for it (ain’t nothing wrong with it). What’s even sad is that the money according to some is obviously higher than what they were getting back in Zimbabwe for their 9-5 jobs. I’m sure for many, this part of migrating to a country with a whole different climate and doing care work was not part of the original script but kinda came out as a plot twist in their story. Some are simply tired of living from hand to mouth and then there is the group of individuals with critical skills and know they can make a better living.

There are the ones who have dreams and are tired of going round and round in circles and are moving with hope that this move is going to align with all they dream of. There are those who are actually not really struggling because they were born into money, but are just tired of the teapot country and decide you know what, maybe a trip to a foreign land will do me good, lucky fellas right. There are the ones who are tired of sleeping and waking up in the dark, tired of inconsistent policies, tired of buying commodities at a different price every time you walk into the supermarket, tired of looking at their graduation pictures and thinking the only good thing that came with finishing school, was society celebrating this win but it has never made their life any better.

There are the ones who would not want their kids living a life like the one they lived so they would rather go on and see what the other parts of the world have to offer. There are patriotic citizens who have been hoping and praying for change and even advocating for it but is there still hope for Zimbabwe as there is for Israel? There are the ones who are just tired of a country with dysfunctional systems, where one struggles to get the simplest things like identity documents and are ready to put their faith and hope in another human being promising them milk and honey on the other side of the earth.

There have been stories of desperate Zimbabweans falling prey to other Zimbabweans who are already abroad charging them exorbitant prices to help with the visa processing and even promises of employment. This is not the case for everyone as for some what was glittering proved to be gold. One thing about my country is that you can never be only book smart and make it, you got to know the streets well. It is not all bad for everyone, I mean imagine the Drax scandal. Some are making it big whether their dealings are legit or not. There are those whose businesses and jobs are paying them so well that they find no reason to leave this mismanaged country.

What if we all leave and ask God to just do to Zimbabwe what he did with Sodom and Gomorrah? Maybe some are staying because of the fear of the unknown and not knowing what the future holds or if it could be any better than what they have known. My country people are migrating to different countries like there is war in the country. Some are unfortunate and are treated as less humans in the countries they migrated to, while those who are stealing from the tax payers are living large with no dreams of leaving. I mean, if they leave then they will die of hunger. Milk and honey are flowing for them here, so why leave when you are in Canaan already?


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