Zimbabweans living and working in South Africa have described 2014 as a very difficult year for them and their families.
Many cited South Africa’s economic challenges and lack of decent employment as the greatest frustrations of the year.
Zimbabwean national Holt Mhlanga, who is a self-employed builder, says the majority of his colleagues, whether employed or self-employed, faced many social and economic challenges.
“The business in 2014 was very down, it was not the same like other years, because even my clients who used to call me to come and do their jobs for water proofing, building, plastering, fixing ceilings, tiling, were just few.”
Like many other countries in different parts of the world, South Africa experienced a number of economic challenges in 2014.
The Moody’s Investors Service, an internationally-recognized rating agency, downgraded the country’s 5 leading banks signaling signs of instability in the financial sector.
The slow economic growth also forced the Ministry of Finance to revise the expected economic growth downwards from 2.7 percent to 1.4 percent. The government cited both external and domestic factors for the subdued growth.
As a result of the slow economic growth, the country could not create the expected job opportunities and this frustrated a number of Zimbabweans, who were looking for employment.
But the frustration never stopped the influx of Zimbabweans into South Africa, says Mxolisi Ncube, a Zimbabwean journalist based in South Africa.
“Zimbabweans still come here as their Mecca, but at the end of the day they find that it’s not as rosy as they thought when they left their home country, so, most of them have been forced into unothodox ways of trying to make a living here because they cannot go back home because it’s even worse there.”
But some Zimbabweans say it was not all gloom and doom. About 245,000 Zimbabweans whose 4-year permits were set to expire at the end of 2014, received a reprieve when they were granted a three-year extension.
But others say their disappointment did not only come from South Africa, but from Zimbabwe as well. Maonezvi Moyo, originally from Honde Valley in Manicaland, says he was upset by the outcome of the Zanu PF congress.
Moyo says instead of the ruling party strengthening democratic principles it has elected the country’s leadership using dictatorship, hence he does not see anything good coming from the current leadership.
“I was expecting that things were going to change but unfortunately Zanu PF is fighting against Zanu PF. I don’t see any future in Zimbabwe as things are going to be even worse. They don’t have anything they even failed to give teachers their bonuses in December. So, we don’t expect anything from the government at the moment because they don’t have money.”
However, others are optimistic that 2015 will bring them more chances of success looking at the measures that South Africa has put in place to ensure meaningful economic growth in future.