By Simplicius Chirinda
Harare, September 11, 2013 – It’s a Saturday morning and the queue is
growing inside Jameson Hotel’s first floor. Men and women of
all ages are maintaining a dead silence. Among them are mostly youths
of university going age and some who appear to be from the working class.
They are waiting to register and write the English Language Test
better known as (ILETS). It is a test administered by the British
Council for Zimbabweans seeking to migrate to other countries either
for education, work or simple migration.
The routine is happening just over a month after the disputed July 31 election.
Something is common among these people and a talkative young nurse who
arrived late at the testing centre breaks the ice.
“Hey where are you going and when did you do your speaking test,” she
said in a surprised tone as she begun a chat with her friend she had
just met at the centre.
Apart from being friends the two are actually friends. They both work
at a local hospital and before their meeting at the testing centre
they were secretly planning to migrate to Australia but never shared
There are about 55 people at the testing centre on this particular
day. Officials at British Council say the numbers are sometimes more
The tests are taken twice a month.
So with at least 100 people seeking to leave the country for various
reasons every month, it appears many of those seeking to do so are
voting with their feet against their motherland.
“My entire family is in Australia, I am the only one still in
Zimbabwe. I hoped I would have a future here but now the elections did
not produced what I was hoping for, so I am thinking of joining my
family in Australia,” said the young nurse.
Although she is nervous about the test that she needs to register with
the Australian Nurses Council she is dead sure of her preferred future
“I am going to Australia and everything is set. I just need to pass
this English test and I am good to go,” she said.
Her friend is married. She is prepared to leave her husband and their
7 months-old baby to pave the way to a bright future for her family.
“Me and my husband are employed by the government. I am a nurse and he
works for the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA). We also have a small
business making popped corn (Maputi) but its still difficult to make
ends meet, so I am going to sacrifice and go to Australia and my
family will follow later,” said the nurse.
Zimbabweans have in the past decade emigrated to neighbouring and
overseas countries to escape an economic meltdown and political
implosion. Their favourite destination from the early 2000s have been
the United Kingdom when Zimbabweans still needed no visas to enter the
UK, Australia, South Africa and most recently China and the Middle
Recently a number of the early migrants were returning home after the
coming of the coalition government between Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe following a disputed poll in
With the new cabinet now in place more Zimbabweans ate likely to
consider joining the great trek out.
“This cabinet does not inspire confidence. I was hoping Mugabe would
have more young people who understand the new world order in his
cabinet but to bring us these old chaps who honestly have nothing to
offer is the last straw that I needed to make a decision on my
future,” said Munyaradzi Shoko a student on attachment with a local
“If you ask me this cabinet is an insult to young people. Some if
those characters will spend their time dozing off rather than serving
the people in the various platforms they will preside over.”
Meanwhile South Africa is rumoured to be planning to reintroduce the
visa regime though it has so far denied those reports.
For its part the United Kingdom recently introduced TB testing for all
Zimbabweans seeking to travel to the UK.
At the British Council Offices in Belgravia Radio Vop met a group of
teenagers registering to write the Cambridge Administered O and A
Asked why they were shunning the ZIMSEC administered exams they said
they hope yo study abroad.
“With Cambridge certificates its easy to get a place at foreign
universities and also enhances chances in life,” said a teenage girl
who was registering to write Cambridge exams on deadline day.