By Simplicius Chirinda
Johannesburg, September 24, 2013 – Josphat Ncube is a Zimbabwean working at OR Tambo International Airport. He doesn’t want to be identified as a Zimbabwean citizen when at work at the Ocean Basket restaurant where he is employed as a waiter. But he is happy to reveal his identity to anyone from home.
He says he has gained so many culinary, fine wining and dining skills that he can now easily start his own food and drink outlet if he gets a chance. One of his obvious questions to anyone from home is about prospects of any economic recovery under a new Zanu PF government that can push him to come back home after five years of working in several restaurants around Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa.
“Is it possible to come back home now and will I get a job,” he asks in between serving dishes of sea food to his customers at the airport outlet.
“I really want to come back home but I don’t think this will be the right time. I was hoping things would change with the elections. Some of my friends went home before elections but they are now back in South Africa because they don’t think ZANU PF will change anything.”
Ncube hails from Gwanda town in Matabeleland South province . He like many other young Zimbabweans crossed the border into South Africa in search of a better life. He had hoped the July 31 election would usher in a new Zimbabwe but that dream seems to have been shuttered at least for now.
“South Africa remains home until things change back home,” he said.
Asked why he believes it will only take a change of government to change the economic situation in Zimbabwe, he said, “I am 28 years-old and I don’t think there is anything that a 90 year-old president would do for me. I would rather stay here until things change in Zimbabwe,” he says in reference to President Robert Mugabe, who turns 90 years early next year.
The conversation was soon interrupted by a yelling South African shop supervisor at Ocean Basket. He accused Ncube of interfering with customers telling him to do his job and stop talking to patrons of the restaurant.
“These are some of the things that make me wish I was home,” he intimated as he clears the eating tables.
Talking to Ncube and many other Zimbabweans-who form a huge army of migrant workers in South Africa-one gets a sense that they all have a yearning to return home. But with the outcome of the July 31 election in which Zanu PF won against Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party many Zimbabweans still can’t believe that desire is far from being fulfilled.
Many Zimbabweans around the world had hoped that the elections would usher in a new democratic dispensation which was to gradually lead to many of them finally coming back home to help rebuild the country after decades of social, economic and political strife.
Ncube’s predicament is shared by many Zimbabweans around the world particularly those closer in countries such as South Africa.
It did not take Radio VOP any effort to find another Zimbabweans working at OR Tambo International Airport. This time it was Enesia as the name tag on her t-shirt read.
She like Ncube harbours long held dreams of returning home to be with her two kids after three years of working in South Africa.
But her fears are obvious.
“What will I do if I am to go back home – to be a prostitute? I would rather struggle here in South Africa and get that little money to send back home to my mother for my two children,” she said.
The re-election of President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party after the July 31 poll has dashed any hopes of returning home that many Zimbabweans had.
For now it remains a dream deferred for these shattered Zimbabweans.