By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
21 May 2014
The economic meltdown is driving hundreds of Zimbabweans into South Africa every day, amid reports that authorities are struggling to police illegal crossing points.
Immigration authorities at Beitbridge told The Zimbabwean newspaper that at least 100 border jumpers were being arrested daily trying to cross into South Africa.
The figure is however said to be much higher, as other people manage to elude the officials who say they do not have the resources to monitor all the illegal entry points along the 300 km border with SA.
Speaking from South Africa, SW Radio Africa correspondent Ezra Tshisa Sibanda said the massive numbers of people trying to leave confirm how bad the situation is in Zimbabwe.
“It’s a reflection of the economic conditions prevailing in the country. The economy has crumbled totally, people are losing jobs daily as companies close and this is forcing people to flee to neighbouring countries.
“From what I have seen and from speaking to Zimbabweans, we can safely estimate that for every hundred people that the police manage to arrest, 200 others manage to cross over into SA, either through illegal crossing points or legally through immigration,” Sibanda said.
“I have just been speaking to some Zimbabweans who were deported from SA last month but four days ago they managed to sneak back in illegally.”
Sibanda said although life is tough for most of the undocumented Zimbabweans living in South Africa the conditions are nothing compared to the suffering being experienced by those left behind.
“At least here they still can get jobs as domestic workers, farm labourers or till operators, which would be impossible in Zimbabwe.”
It’s not known how many Zimbabweans now live in South Africa, but estimates vary between 2 and 4 million.
Social and economic conditions that had improved during the coalition government have worsened since ZANU PF took over in a disputed 2013 electoral outcome.
Many observers believe that less than five percent of the country’s population is in formal employment, and this is driving many of the country’s young people, both skilled and unskilled, out of the country.