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News | Even those with degrees have to hustle at the border to survive – Zoutnet


News Date: 22 January 2023
Written by: Bernard Chiguvare / Viewed: 443

In Zimbabwe, unemployment has been a serious problem for many years. Scores of Zimbabwean nationals, even those with qualifications, are forced to make a living by selling fresh produce and other commodities at the Beitbridge Border Post’s street market (on the South African side) because they cannot find employment in their own country.
Limpopo Mirror has spoken to a few Zimbabweans, some with degrees to their names, who come to South Africa nearly every day to buy goods for resale in Zimbabwe, or to do some form of casual job. When they enter South Africa, they produce their passports and may be granted up to two weeks in the country, but they must leave again before that grant expires.
Tatenda* (26) completed his teaching diploma at Bondolfi Teachers College in Zimbabwe in 2019 but still has not been employed in his country. Life was so bad for him that, in 2020, he relocated to Beitbridge from Masvingo, trying to find ways to make a living.
“Life is still hard for me. We visit truck stops around the border, looking for casual jobs, mostly washing trucks, but I soon realised that there are many of us in this business. Sometimes I get only one truck to wash for the whole day, earning me anything between R50 and R100. This is not a living,” said Tatenda.
He also sells second-hand tyres to motorists, usually those heading to Zimbabwe, but this business is not as lucrative as he thought it could be either. The price of a tyre depends on the size, but the cost is normally around $100.
Tatenda often has to put up for the night at the border, where he sleeps in an open space next to some tyres because he cannot afford overnight accommodation.
Sharai* (40), who is also a qualified teacher, was busy boiling cow hooves to sell when Limpopo Mirror spoke to her. She passed her matric (Form 6) in 2001 and was aiming to study further for a degree in Zimbabwe but could not proceed because of her home background. Between 2000 and 2009, she managed to raise enough money for her university studies and enrolled with the Great Zimbabwe University to study adult education. In 2013, she successfully completed her studies, but this did not help to improve her situation. In 2018, Sharai enrolled with the Reformed Church University to study for her social worker’s degree, which she also obtained, but until now she still has not secured formal employment, so she joined the group of Zimbabweans hustling at the Beitbridge border.
However, through this uncertainty shines a ray of light – for those with teaching qualifications at least. On 16 January this year, The Herald (a Zimbabwean newspaper) reported that the Public Service Commission in Zimbabwe, in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, was busy conducting massive recruitments for teachers to be deployed to 28 districts in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and West, Masvingo, Manicaland, Matabeleland North and South, and the Midlands.
*Not their real names.

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Tatenda*, a Zimbabwean national who also has a teaching degree, sells second-hand tyres at the Beitbridge Border Post to earn some kind of income. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare.


Bernard Chiguvare is a Zimbabwean-born journalist. He writes mainly for the online publication, Groundup.


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