SOUTH Africa went into a lockdown four weeks ago in order to flatten the global COVID-19 curve and the lockdown has positively exposed some of the hardships faced by foreigners who are employed in the retail industry.
By Leonard Koni, Our Reader
During the lockdown, I had time to interact with fellow countrymen surrounding the old township of Langa. Langa is one of the oldest towns in Cape Town, situated about 15km from the city centre.
It is a township and suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. Its name in Xhosa means the “sun” and it was established in 1927 in terms of the 1923 Urban Areas Act.
Similar to Nyanga, Langa is one of the many areas in South Africa that were designated for black Africans before the apartheid era and it has a population of around 58 401.
I have been living in this township for more than two years now, and had the privilege to interact with many Zimbabweans and South Africans living in this oldest township.
I discovered that most of these young South Africans do not go to work and was wondering how they eke out a living, serve for a few typically educated ones who are employed and like driving their posh cars with very beautiful ladies.
These young men don’t socialise with some of their fellow countrymen, neither do they socialise with foreigners like Zimbabweans, Malawians or Nigerians for their own reasons.
They look down upon them. The only interaction is when hiring foreigners for menial jobs.
Some do not feel comfortable to hang out for a drink with foreigners, but I had always wanted to tell them that people from Zimbabwe were very warm, accommodative and wonderful, that was my mission to tell my Zimbabwean story. A lot would agree with me that very few Zimbabweans go down to South Africa for criminal reasons, but come to work for their well being and some are economic refugees.
It is well known that Zimbabweans are so resilient, hard-working and peace-loving people. Wherever Zimbabweans are, they do not hide away their ubuntu and always want to open a new chapter of their lives and love sharing their stories of suffering with others in the world.
They are always ready to show the right way of thinking to their fellow Africans and have a sense of belonging to the African continent and one global world.
Most Zimbabweans are eager to let their fellow Africans know that they are more calm, reserved, have a listening ear and soft heart.
However, it is sad that most Zimbabweans will face a daunting task post the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, a sharp statement from Finance minister Tito Mboweni has sent cold shivers down the spine of most Zimbabweans living in South Africa and working as tailors, waiters, gardeners, security guards maids, taxi drivers and cleaners, just to mention a few.
He openly stated that businesses in the restaurant industry must employ more South African staffers. That means most foreigners will be laid off. Mboweni argued that “life after lockdown” must put the workforce of this country first.
His views are much appreciated and welcome by the unemployed young people in Mzansi, but how many of such young South Africans are ready to go for such menial jobs?
Most of them love clubbing and one cannot successfully separate them from their love for the brown bottle. They are fond of sinking their social ills in alcohol.
However, it is his remarks on restaurants that have raised eyebrows among thousands of young qualified Zimbabweans who are employed in that sector.
I am not going to be tempted to put much of the blame on Mboweni’s sentiments, but would be tempted to put much of the blame on our Zimbabwean government, which has failed to create employment opportunities.
Life for most young Zimbabweans has been jeopardised and their futures are hanging in the balance. Some of these people are as young as 18 years and of school-going age.
They are here not because they wanted to be here, but they have been pushed by the harsh economic environment back home. The future is so bleak.
If the Zimbabwean government was providing such jobs as the youths are getting here, surely most of these youths would not bother go into neighbouring countries.
I challenge the Zimbabwean government to positively look into this serious matter, where its educated young people are being tossed around in foreign lands while politicians back home are siphoning and embezzling government funds through corruption and living lavishly.