They have high-paying jobs, a high standard of living, and almost everything they need, but for Zimbabweans abroad, all that glitters is not gold.
Twenty-eight-year-old Gift Gonye, based in Germany, is one such Zimbabwean, and he is apparently not satisfied with his life abroad.
From the Masvingo-Beitbridge highway in Zimbabwe at a spot popularly known as Turn-P, the road passing through Neshuro Township has been degraded, disused, and derelict for over two decades, with buses avoiding the route. Now donkey-drawn carts that operate alongside jalopy vehicles have become the new alternative for remote travellers around Mwenezi villages.
In New Ashdon Park, a medium-density area in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, at new homes that have replaced a once thriving forest, makeshift fireplaces have become common sights as residents solely depend on firewood for energy.
In 2007 as inflation walloped the Zimbabwean currency, rendering it valueless, then 54-year-old Langton Musaigwa of Mataruse village west of Zimbabwe in Mberengwa district switched to cattle as his currency.
With homemade tents scattered about, hordes of artisanal gold miners throng parts of Mazowe village in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland Central Province, where they have cut down thousands of trees to process gold ore.
Edious Murewa has for years boasted of owning a 10-hectare piece of land, but now the 52-year-old is full of regrets. He faces poverty years after he invaded part of a farm once owned by a white commercial farmer.
At his house in Mabvuku, a high-density suburb in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, 86-year-old Tinago Murape claims his grandchildren starve him.
Not only that, but Murape, who now walks with the support of a walking stick, said his three grandchildren – grown-up men with their wives and children living in his house, accuse him of bewitching them.
In Chitungwiza, right next to the highway, 36-year-old Nesbit Gavanga and his five colleagues use shovels as they load trucks with sand.
The six apparently are in the business of sand-poaching and openly explain that every other day they engage in running battles with environmental officials who seek to curtail land degradation here. The group’s informal sand quarry lies 25 kilometers southeast of the Zimbabwean capital Harare.
With inflation at 256.9 percent, 49-year-old Dambudzo Chauruka can no longer afford to buy bread despite working as a civil servant in Zimbabwe.
Idah Hanyani, popularly known as Gogo Chihera, has backed the opposition since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980.
Born in Wedza, a district in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland East province, the 91-year-old first supported United African National Council (UANC).
In 2001, when Reki Jimu was 30 years old, his wife died aged 27.
The now 51-year-old Jimu said the couple’s two sons died prematurely. Both were underweight and frail, although the couple had been previously blessed with a baby girl, Faith Jimu, who is now a 29-year-old mother of three.
Two decades ago, Trynos Mahamba left Zimbabwe for the United Kingdom, but back home, he has changed the lives of his relatives.
Since the day after he left, Mahamba (53) has been sending money home while Zimbabwe’s economy faltered amidst violent land seizures from commercial white farmers during Zimbabwe’s land reform programme.
More than a month ago, she lost her parents, brother, and wife, to the coronavirus. Then her fiancé battled COVID-19, but 27-year-old Melinda Gavi said she had not contracted the disease.
Stung by the country’s spiralling inflation, Zimbabwe’s government workers took to the streets this week for the first ever police-sectioned march demanding improved wages.
For subsistence farmer Rogers Hove—who proudly brandishes a worn out letter for his five hectare piece of land he obtained from government following the chaotic land seizures from white commercial farmers over two decades ago—what matters most to him, “is to see my piece of land in my possession”.
Sixty-seven-year-old Hloniphani Sidingo gives a broad smile while popping out through the gate of a clinic in her village, as she heads home clutching containers of anti-retroviral pills.
Dairai Churu, 53, sits with his chin cupped in his palms next to mounds of rubble from his destroyed makeshift home in the Caledonia informal settlement approximately 30 kilometers east of Harare, thanks to the floods that have inundated Zimbabwe since the end of last year.
Emaciated and with their ribs jutting out, Evans Sinyoro’s cattle lie on the ground overlooking a dry patch of land while the small earth dam nearby is also dry, thanks to the El Nino-induced drought wreaking havoc across Zimbabwe.
Tichaona Muzariri, 44, a villager based at Range in Chivhu, a town 143 kilometers south of Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, quit his job as a teacher in 2009 to start a rabbit farm on a small scale with three does (female rabbits) and one buck (male). With around US$30 as capital, Muzariri waded into rabbit farming back then. Today, his rabbit farm breeds nearly 3,000 rabbits every year and slaughters up to 120 every week for sale to grocery stores, restaurants and hotels.
Keziah Juma is coming to terms with her shattered life at the shanty she shares with her family in Kenya’s sprawling Kibera slum where friends and relatives are gathered for her son’s funeral arrangements. While attending an antenatal clinic, Juma who is only 16 years discovered that she had been infected with HIV. “I went into shock and stopped going to the clinic, that is why they could not save my baby and I have been bed-ridden since giving birth two months ago,” she told IPS.
Wheelchair-bound, her body now skeletal from full blown AIDS, disabled 38-year-old Melisa Chigumba attempts to wave away a swarm of flies hovering around her face as she sits outside her home in Chachacha, a remote area in Shurugwi, 278 kilometers south of the capital, Harare.