The xenophobic attacks against migrant workers in South Africa is having its inevitable knock on impact on people here in Zimbabwe too.
Three people I know directly here in Zimbabwe have been affected so far and I am sure there are many more. One of them is an elderly woman whose daughter is currently in hosptial in South Africa after being attacked.
Initially it was thought her daughter had been the victim of a savage mugging, but we now realise it was the start of the swathe assaults in the news.
This elderly person is deeply worried both for her daughter's welfare, and also for how she herself is going to manage to continue looking after her grandchildren. Her daughter went to South Africa and left her children in the care of her mother; she was there trying to earn enough to send back to educate and feed them all.
Another is a friend whose relative left Zimbabwe years ago - entirely legally. She has a good job in South Africa, pays her taxes and has all the right papers. She rents a home there. Apparently she was approached by a group of people who demanded she speak to them in their language; she couldn't, so they forced the landlord to terminate her rental agreement. She is now homeless and very short of money. The last she spoke to my friend she said she was worried about her safety and how she was going to manage to keep the children in school. Above all she was very fearful the xenophobic insults would extend into the school-yards and her children would be victimised as well.
The third person affected is someone else I know well. Her relative also works legally in South Africa. He lives frugally so he can send money to his family in Zimbabwe and the number if people depending on him to help has grown through the years he has been away. He is terrified he will be attacked and injured so badly that he will not be able to work. He needs to be healthy - too many people rely on him for their survival.
To preserve his job he has taken to sleeping in the bush at night and avoiding populated areas outside working hours. He uses a garage bathroom near to his work to try and keep himself tidy enough to not get into trouble with his employers.
Someone else I spoke to about all this said she was hearing that Zimbabweans in South Africa were saying they would rather return home to be killed in their own country than stay and be killed in South Africa. When you hear things like this the second thing you think of is the impact on votes in the run-off if migrants workers come back (if they are still registered to vote).
The first thing that comes to mind is deep worry for the number of people who will be badly affected. What about their dependents? What about the lack of food here in Zimbabwe? What about the fact that the survival of so many in our country is inextricably linked to the support and money coming in from hard-working Zimbabweans outside?
This is an ugly and desperate situation to be trapped in. Xenophobia is a state of mind I personally think is reserved for the most stupid people in a society and I'm not even going to try and be diplomatic about that. All the attacks are unwarrented and nasty, but in the case of Zimbabweans, the vicious attacks seem especially cruel given everything we are currently going through in our own country.
The fools responsible for this don't even have the wits to see that their stupidity and hatred means they are fouling their own nest and destroying opportunity and possibility for thousands of South Africans who I am sure are just as disgusted and appalled as I am:
The violence helped weaken South Africa's rand as investors backed away from the currency, fearing the xenophobic attacks could hurt the economy. The rand was pushed down further after Asian and European stocks weakened.
"We've got the domestic xenophobic violence which is scaring investors away, so these factors are combining to create a weaker rand," said David Gracey, a trader at Nedbank.
The currency fell over 1.7 percent to 7.68 to the dollar. (via Reuters)
I wonder how many foreigners around the world, looking at this display of violence, are looking forward to travelling to South Africa to watch world cup football there?