Zimbabwe Exists Only In Dreams For Some Zimbabweans In London

After the trauma of losing a loved one and a bread winner, she left for the Diaspora in an effort to find a better job to look after her four daughters.

She left her poorly paying job as a teacher and first went to Botswana before moving to London.

London has been a favourite destination for immigrants running away from various economic, social and economic problems in their countries.

Despite a Nollyhood (Nigerian) film, “Eusophia in London” which depicts the city as hospitable and easy going, it is not so for Musvingo.

“I would love to go back home but I can’t at the moment because of the situation there,” said Musvingo who has been in London for seven years.

She currently stays with friends in a two-bed roomed apartment in London’s Camden area. Together they make enough to meet costs such as rent, electricity, gas, water and food. They need about 900 pounds for rent and just half of that to buy supplies to see them through a month. Together they easily manage these basics of the harsh London
life.

But the difficult part of Musvingo’s life has been “papers.” Getting asylum papers is a mammoth task for many Zimbabweans immigrants that have chose to start a new life here. For seven years Musvingo has been battling to get papers and now she lives in fear of deportation following a recent ruling by a UK court giving the nod to the Home Office to deport undocumented Zimbabweans.

Failure to get papers means one cannot work and without work life can be hell in London. Companies that used to employ people without “papers” are now afraid of the hefty fines that come with such practices.

There are an estimated 10 000 asylum applicants at the UK Home Office and about 3 000 of these have been failed.

Over 50 000 Zimbabweans live in the UK. Most of them are populated across London while a few others are domiciled in cities such as Bristol, Luton and Manchester.

Most of these Zimbabweans mind their own business and are never keen to talk about their personal circumstances. You either meet them in trains dozing off as they move from one job to the other.

They also attend regular political meetings organised to deal with immigration issues.

It’s quite difficult to pin down a social appointment with most Zimbabweans here save for those who are in professional employment such as nursing and teaching. Most of them do “care work” which involves looking after the elderly British citizens and terminally ill patients and rarely find time off. They earn an average of five pounds an hour.

“I have been here for 15 years but still don’t have papers,” one participant at a meeting organised by Zimbabwean in Cardiff said.

They blamed Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for sending the wrong signals about the situation back home.

Jeff Sango, a community Organiser working for a UK based citizens organisation told Radio VOP life in London is what you make it.

“It’s about how you want to make it, if you know what you want and you work hard work then London is the place to be because the opportunities are limitless,” he said.