Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

Diaspora should plan for post-Zanu-PF era

18 Jul 2023 at 06:22hrs | Views
LAST week Wednesday was yet another heart-breaking day for me as I made my way through Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport to catch my flight.

Many people, who came to greet me at the airport in Harare and on the plane, were mainly young Zimbabweans with university degrees, but destined to be care assistants in Britain, a menial pursuit.

As they always do, it starts with a request for a photograph, and then we end up in conversation about the politics of our beloved yet battered country.

Last week was no different, loads of greetings and conversations as I spoke to these young people who were headed for Britain to start a new life as care assistants.

A care assistant, or professional carer, is responsible for upkeeping their clients' hygiene, ensuring their safety and facilitating their meals when they need them.

Most of these carers will be looking after very old and frail people or those recovering at home after hospitalisation.

When I lived in England in the 1990s, care work was for those without tertiary education, and was only used as a stepping stone to bigger things, but today, we have Zimbabweans with Master of Arts or Science degrees setting off to do care work out of desperation created by a broken economy and corrupt government.

No jobs, no future

The movement to England has been caused by two things — the tragic failure to govern by Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe, and the Brexit pull factor which opened these vacancies for people from the former British colonies, bringing people who speak English to the country.

The young man sitting next to me from Harare to Addis Ababa regretted that he won't be able to vote in the August 23 general election, he wanted the satisfaction of voting out a corrupt and incompetent government, as he put it.

But desperate circumstances stole that opportunity from him, circumstances created by Zanu-PF misrule and State corruption which has left Zimbabwean hospitals without even basic medication like painkillers.

It is not only jobs that are driving young Zimbabweans out, but also the broken down healthcare system — 2 500 Zimbabwean women die every year giving birth due to lack of maternity theatres.

The biggest hospital in Zimbabwe, Sally Mugabe, has only one working maternity theatre — built in 1977. As a result of this, 75% of women giving birth at South Africa's Musina Hospital are Zimbabweans running away from a dilapidated healthcare system in Zimbabwe.

The whole of Zimbabwe's public healthcare system doesn't have a single working radiotherapy cancer treatment machine. Ninety-five percent of Zimbabwe's potential workforce is sitting at home.

I consider myself extremely lucky, I come from a generation where one would study towards a particular profession, and then pursue that as a career after graduating from either the polytechnic or university.

Nowadays a lot of young people are sitting at home doing nothing, so working as a care assistant in Britain is a welcome opportunity for this generation of educated but unemployed youths.

As I always remind the young people who follow me on social media, I bought my first property in Zimbabwe when I was only 29 years old.

It is in Colne Valley, one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in Harare, there were no shady deals done or any favours to get the mortgage. I just walked into CABS (building society) and got a mortgage, just like that.

Today, we have generations of young people that might never own even a two-bed home in the high-density suburbs unless Zimbabwe's political fortunes change, or unless they leave Zimbabwe.

For Zimbabwe's fortunes to change, you need more than a people's will and desire to vote, you need alternative political thinking with ideas and a plan on how to capture power and change Zimbabwe.

But until that happens, I and many others of my age will keep saying goodbye to Zimbabwe's young, bright and smart people who should be the country's future — who unfortunately are being absorbed to develop mainly Britain and South Africa.

When these young people go away, they won't escape Zanu-PF's corrupt and failed rule, because they must send money back home.

Their lives in Britain would not be of a standard that corresponds with their earnings because they must send siblings to school in Zimbabwe, and they must pay hospital bills for their elderly parents whose pensions were looted twice by the Zanu-PF government through hyperinflation.

Power of our people

The political alternative or opposition should pay attention to this aspect and get the Zimbabwean diaspora into a structured powerful group as opposed to sporadic groupings.

If Zanu-PF is removed from power today, Zimbabwe will not be able to rise again quickly without the skills of the diaspora, and there are many Zimbabweans abroad, millions.

We don't know how to make things anymore, because we stopped making things a long time ago.

How do you become a diligent town planner when there has been no town planning taking place in Zimbabwe for decades?

How do you have people who have never worked their whole life leading your councils and Parliament?

Some professionals in the diaspora will have to take patriotic leave from their workstations abroad to come back home and help rebuild the country, without which we are doomed.

So, as many young people leave Zimbabwe to do care jobs in Britain, I urge them to continue studying while there because a day will come when the skills that they would have acquired there become highly needed back home.

I thank all the young people who came to greet me at the airport and on the plane for sharing their stories.

If it helps, I started off as a cleaner in Planet Hollywood in London while I was studying at university. But I found my way up faster because of my desire to do better for myself, and an upbringing that put hard work at the centre of everything I did.

I said care work was a stepping stone during my time, make it a stepping stone for yourselves too!

My tears are flowing as I type this, God will protect you, protect yourselves too by being honest citizens wherever you are going.

Hopewell Chin'ono is a Zimbabwean journalist, documentary film director and anti-corruption activist

Source - newsday
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.