Zimbabweans in SA losing jobs as recession bites
By Alex Bell
26 August 2009
Hundreds of Zimbabweans in South Africa, who fled their homes for greener pastures in the midst of Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown, have started losing their jobs as the recession in South Africa takes hold.
Mass unemployment is just one of the negative effects of the global recession, which has already contributed to the funding resistance of international donors in Zimbabwe. But a leading stockbroker firm has warned this week the decline in the performance of the South African economy could also have dire consequences for Zimbabwe’s economic revival.
The group, Kingdom Stockbrokers, warned that South African companies and the government could put their investment plans on hold to focus on their own survival. The result would be a total lack of investment in Zimbabwe and credit line insecurity from South Africa, which has been the most ambitious country in promising investment to Zimbabwe.
South African based economist Luke Zunga on Tuesday explained that Zimbabweans in South Africa are already losing their jobs, and expressed concern that Zimbabwe’s economic revival is even further off now because of the recession. Speaking during Tuesday’s instalment of Diaspora Diaries, Zunga explained that the recession is also fuelling lingering xenophobic tensions, because of the now overwhelming competition for local jobs. Last year, more than 60 foreigners were killed in spate of xenophobic attacks, and Zunga on Tuesday said the recession is now compounding the problem. He continued that the entire Southern African region would be affected by the recession in South Africa, arguing that the country is the ‘ankle’ of the entire region.
“We must be very concerned because if South Africa coughs, it is certain that the whole region will be forced to cough too,” Zunga explained.
Zimbabwe’s economic revival is already a long way off, with the current political stalemate between the leaders of the unity government, further draining investor confidence. International donor governments have said that real change in the country must be evident before financial commitments of development aid are made. But such change has not been forthcoming, and the only aid entering the country is being filtered through active aid groups fighting the humanitarian crisis. At the same time, a potential investment relationship with South Africa is already tense, after it emerged this weekend that Zimbabwe has pulled out of signing a bilateral investment protection agreement with South Africa.
South Africa wants its citizens and entrepreneurs, who have invested in land and other natural resources, to be covered under the agreement to prevent disruption of their investments. But Zimbabwe government officials reportedly vehemently objected to a clause about land in March, and have still not signed what could be an investment guarantee with South Africa.