by Shadreck Marimbiri
January 27 2019 – DESPITE being painted as a place whose streets are paved of gold, the trek down SA has slowly become one fraught with challenges, sometimes even bigger than those that one faces while in Zimbabwe, warns Zimbabwean journalist turned write Sibanengi Mswazie Dube.
Dube who has been living in SA for more than a decade and the author of the book No gold in eGoli says he was forced to write the book after seeing how fellow Zimbabweans are living in SA, a far cry from the impression particularly formed by migrants or Njivas as they are called in Bulawayo..
” I decided to write this book after witnessing the kind of life which my fellow Zimbabweans live in South Africa,” says Dube.
“This got me worried and I decided to fire a warning shots to Zimbabweans who stream across the border here expecting instant riches,” says Dube.
“The idea was also to correct the “Zviri kufaya” mantra which in my view is untrue and misleading. Of course there are a few Zimbabweans who made it in the corporate world who are having it nice but they are very few.
Running away from an economic and political meltdown that has been ongoing pretty much since independence thousands if not millions have found their way across the border. Not only inspired but what they saw on TV but also from family and friends who would often visit home during Christmas wearing fancy clothes, splashing money and sometimes faking SA accents, desperate Zimbabweans often saw Mzansi as an easier out as it didnot have the hassles of visas or expensive air tickets.
Thus the long trek down South included job seekers and those who wanted to ge into business.
But unbeknown to these immigrant life in Africa’s strongest economy has a host of challenges, ranging from cultural differences, xenophobia, both institutional and physical,exploitation by both SA citizens with and without the formal structures.
Resentment by locals has gotten worse as SA too grapples with high unemployment And as the cry for “foreigners” taking the few available jobs grow louder the SA government has been forced to tighten its immigration laws.
“The saddest things about working in South Africa as an immigrant worker without proper immigration papers is that there is a danger of exhausting one’s working life and retiring without a pension,” says Dube, never mind being susceptible to unscrupulous employers.
“It is not easy for foreigners to even buy houses because banks do not give loans to applicants with short term work permits,” adds Dube.
With Zimbabwe on its knees economically more and more citizens are tempted to cross the Limpopo in search of a better life to which Dube warns one must not do unless he or she has proper documentation and education.
” I would not advise anyone to head to Mzansi before getting a job, legalising their immigration status and getting tertiary qualification.
As the resentment against non SA increases, particularly Zimbabweans who unlike Nigerians are workers than businesspeople, are accusations of committing crime.
” I would also urge Zimbabweans not to be tempted into doing crime because thats giving us a bad reputation. They must also avoid staying in crime infested areas like Yeoville and Hillbrow,” he advises.
Dube who says his book has been selling like hot cakes since its launch late last year, says it is because he has tried as much as he can to educate both the young and the old who may be contemplating to take the trek down South, by delving into the actual releaties of migration and life in diaspora especially for the black Africans.
“This book is a psychological and social preparation for future migrants that life in diaspora is not full of milk and honey but is characterised by solitude, depression, hardships and opportunities” he cautions.
Dube says he is planning to turn the book into a movie.
Dube ‘s book No Gold in eGoli is centred on a main character, Fortunate Mhoshiwa, who deserted his teaching job at Funye Second School in Mberengwa and fled to Johannesburg expecting instant gold, but instead he is immediately confronted with destitution, prostitution and crime.
When he finally makes back home after a stint in jail he finds his mother dead and his fiancé married.
Apart from delving into the challenges of being an African migrant in Mzansi the book delves into human emotions, and the anguish of trying to survive in the streets of eGoli.