SA-based Zimbos trapped by crashing rand

THOUSANDS of Zimbabweans based in neighbouring South Africa might fail to make it back home this festive season following the recent crash of the South African rand against major currencies, NewsDay has learnt.

By Tatenda Chitagu

There are an estimated two million Zimbabweans working or studying in South Africa, with many having fled political persecution and Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown. The rand hit an all-time low last week following the sacking of SA Finance minister Nhlanhla Nene last Wednesday by President Jacob Zuma.

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Zuma then appointed David van Rooyen, a former mayor, to replace Nene.

Seemingly succumbing to pressure, Zuma then made a volte-face after the stock market reacted with shock to Nene’s sacking, and on Sunday he reappointed former Finance minister Pravin Gordhan to the post he held from 2009 to 2014.

In online interviews, many of the Zimbabweans, who spoke off the cuff, said the fall of the rand had financially incapacitated them and derailed their holiday plans.

“We are in a catch-22 situation because of the fall of the rand against major currencies. At the same time, we cannot send money because it will be nothing back home. Here yes, it can buy a lot, but in Zimbabwe, it will be a mockery sending R1 000 which would be equal to $55,” one of the interviewees said.

Another said coming home would add to the burden of struggling relatives, as they might end up asking for bus fare for the return trip.

“It will not make sense after coming, you no longer have bus fare and end up bothering friends or relatives, or disposing of your assets like mobile phones and laptops at giveaway prices, as I did when I got stranded last year.”

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