THE ongoing tiff between Zimbabwe and South Africa over border jumpers from this side of the Limpopo River does not only make sad reading, but demonstrates the gravity of the economic mess that the citizens are running away from.
Political and economic unrest over the past two or so decades has driven many Zimbabweans to risk life and limb and cross the crocodile-infested Limpopo River and gun-wielding army for a presumed better life on the other side of the border.
Some have been deported countless times and exposed to inhumane treatment during detention, but continue to cross illegally as they cannot endure life back home.
Their actions mirror a bigger picture that Zimbabwe’s leadership continues to ignore.
The economic meltdown has reached deplorable levels, with over 60% of the population now said to be facing severe hunger.
Young girls have often found themselves dropping out of school and getting into early marriages, while their male counterparts have turned to drugs and robbery to drown their sorrows and for some, to eke a living.
Poverty has taken root in Zimbabwe, whose leaders seem more concerned about lining their pockets with little regard for the rest of the populace.
Politically, the scenario is the same, the opposition is browbeaten into silence and any discerning voice quieted.
With just over a year before the next round of general elections, many are losing hope in the country’s electoral system — hence the great trek to South Africa.
Crossing the border by any means has become the new hope for many who just want to feed their families and worry less about the country’s political dynamics.
The recent cancellation of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits by South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration has not deterred hard-pressed Zimbabweans from flocking to the neighbouring country.
While an outsider may wonder why Zimbabweans are fighting so hard to remain in a foreign country despite many threats which include xenophobic attacks, the immigrants know better.
The number of hustling youths and vendors at every street corner in Zimbabwe’s urban centres is a reflection of desperate times compounded by a greedy and selfish leadership which unleashes terror on its citizens at the slightest provocation.
Faced with all this, it is no wonder that many now seek greener pastures by whatever means necessary. It is a fight for life.
It is time citizens demand a redress of the economy and push for democratic rule.
Without these changes, these border wars will degenerate into diplomatic fights.
No one wants to leave the comfort of their home unless it is no longer there and is beckoning from across the border. Poverty knows no diplomacy.