By Mark Mhukayesango
Cape Town , September 23, 2015-Having fled the country at the height of an economic and political crisis in 2008, Madia Musekwa a single mother thought fortunes would change for the better by crossing down South, but life has proved a to be a thorny journey.
Working as a maid in the leafy suburb of Good Wood, Cape Town, Musekwa earns R150 per day ,whilst working three days a week, a paltry sum that cannot sustain her for the month.
Musekwa is currently living in a garage in Good Wood,she rents for R1500 a month.
To add to Musekwa’s misery, her sick mother sent her daughter to South Africa because she could not take of the four year old child.
Her accommodation plight led her to the such inhumanely circumstances where she has forgotten all the pleasures of life just to survive.
Living with her child and a Malawian boyfriend, Musekwa works hard to make the garage comfortable for the family.
“This garage might not be the most comfortable place around ,but I don’t have anything else to do. It’s cold here and sometimes you feel like freezing to death-it’s horrible,”a teary Musekwa told Radio VOP.
Early in the morning ,Musekwa takes her four year old child to preschool , a day care which allows her to look for peace jobs.
Due to racism which is common here, Musekwa’s employers pay her a meager R150 per day.
“My boss cut my salary by half and because of desperation I could not quit,” she said.
“I work four jobs a week ,but the money is not even enough to sustain my child and I,” said Musekwa.
Zimbabweans living in Cape Town face exorbitant rentals which far outweigh their incomes , hence are driven into the slums also known as Umkhuku.
The shanty houses are rented out for R200 per month , whilst some Zimbabweans stay in Crime torn Khayelitsha.
Musekwa’s story is somewhat similar to one of Magarate Magwenzi who stays in Khayelitsha suburb in horrible condition just to save the next rand.
Magwenzi who relocated to South Africa in 2010 has moved from one house to the other searching for a descent accommodation as her recent house had leakages through the roof.
“Accommodation is very costly here, but the cheaper houses are not comfortable. I have a defendants back home so I have to save more,” Magwenzi told Radio VOP.
Elina Mutume who lives in Good Wood suburb pays R5000 for a bedsitter said accommodation was eating up a huge chunk of their income.
She said staying in South Africa was tough and with the ever falling rand value, living in a foreign land would be increasingly costly.
Zimbabweans who live in a shanty place in Khayelitsha spend R2500 to buy the shack and R1500 for rentals although there is a high rate of crime, the economic refugees have nowhere else to go.
Khayelitsha Residents and Rate Payers Association (KRRPA) spokesperson Maltokha Mulepe said his organization has been trying to help Zimbabwean immigrants get decent accommodation.
“Due to the rise in population of Zimbabwean immigrants, there has been a jostling for the few houses available hence most of them live in shanties. The shanties do have good sanitation hence we discourage residents to resort to using the shacks,” said Mulepe.
Shanty dwellers use the bucket system toilet , an archaic system which causes diarrhea.
“We have made great strides towards convincing the local authorities to build toilets for residents and we will soon start negotiations with private land developers,” Mulepe said.
Zimbabweans here blame President Robert Mugabe for driving them from their beloved country by running down the economy where most Zimbabweans have turned to vending to eke a living.
An estimated 3 million Zimbabweans live in South Africa where they do menial jobs like cleaning and working as house helps, among other jobs with most of them earning meagre incomes which are not enough to support their families back home