Frustrated Zimbabweans fleeing fragile economy

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Thousands of Zimbabweans have been reported leaving the country to escape the crisis-ridden economy that is stinging the South African country, according to reports from Anadolu Agency, an international news agency headquartered in Turkey.

Until now, more than 460,000 people have fled the country to look for greener pastures with their destinations being South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Mozambique. Deteriorating Zimbabwe’s economy is characterized by one of the worst annual inflations in the world. In a report released by the International Monetary Fund in August, the country’s inflation hit 300 per cent, the highest in the globe.

The exodus has been instigated by uncontrollable hunger, as millions of Zimbabweans cannot afford a single meal a day. Furthermore, financial challenges, shortages of water and electricity, the rising cost of the living and the depreciation of her currency value are not helping the dicey economic situation in Zimbabwe. All these factors have put enormous pressure on the basic needs of the poor. It does not help that many Zimbabweans have equally complained about the torture and brutality they experience in the hands of police while facing the economic mayhem and strangulation.

A South African immigration officer working in Beitbridge, a Zimbabwean town bordering South Africa has divulged that there has been an influx of Zimbabweans in South Africa since August last year when Zimbabwe held its general polls, which brought President Emmerson Mnangagwa officially to power.

“The number of Zimbabweans crossing into South Africa has doubled since the country had elections last year.  About two months after the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe, we started recording over 800 Zimbabweans crossing into South Africa daily via the border; before, the figure of migrants from Zimbabwe was about 400 every day,” said the officer who sought anonymity.

Thousands have remained jobless and a section of those who are still employed are on the verge of losing their jobs as industries continue to shut down, citing a hard economy.

“Many people have lost their jobs owing to industries that have continued to shut down as they face perpetual operational challenges, and people losing their jobs are leaving the country in search of opportunities elsewhere,” said one of Zimbabwe industrialists.

Sadly, the atmosphere of uncertainty reigns in Zimbabwe today.

 In August, dejected ordinary citizens led by the opposition leaders defied the anti-protest ban by the government and marched across the streets of Harare to compel President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to save the country from crumbling. However, they were met with severe opposition from the anti-riot police who landed on them with beatings, injuring scores. International humanitarian organizations condemned the excessive response of the police.

Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa has attributed the country’s woes to sanctions imposed on his country by the United States and European Union, over alleged electoral fraud and gross human rights violations. The President wants the sanctions lifted to, according to him, enable his government stabilize the economy. On Friday, October 25, he led a mass demonstration of his supporters in the capital dubbing the injunctions as “evil and weapons of mass destruction to mankind.

“The continued judgement setting of Utopian standards for Zimbabwe are callous, vindictive and should not be allowed to continue. We say enough is enough,” said Mnangagwa.

The allegations have been denied by EU and US officials who insisted that leaders should be held responsible for the near-collapse of the economy due to, what the EU and the USA attributed to rampant corruption, bad governance and lack of reforms.

“These are people who have engaged in corruption, committed human rights abuses, and undermined Zimbabwe’s democratic process. Blaming sanctions is a convenient scapegoat to distract the public from the real reasons behind Zimbabwe’s economic challenges – corruption, economic mismanagement, and failure to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law,” said the US ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nicholas.

“Our restrictive measures comprise of a travel ban and asset freeze against [the] former presidential couple, a ban for European companies to do business with Zimbabwe Defence Industries, and an arms embargo. That’s all,” reiterated the EU mission for Zimbabwe via its Twitter account.

EU and US sentiments were also echoed by the Zimbabwe main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.

In as much as one cannot exonerate corruption, mismanagement and lack of reform from contributing to the Zimbabwean economic woes, it is unfair and dishonest to argue that the Western orchestrated sanctions are not having excessive choking impacts on the economy of the Southern Africa country.

It is time to set aside the blame games and find a lasting solution to the dying economy of Zimbabwe. It is the best way to enable an average Zimbabwean put a daily meal on the table to prevent them from leaving the country. Zimbabwe needs every citizen to work hard towards making the country great once more.