Zimbabwe tension grips Musina

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

Uncertainty over the situation in Zimbabwe is beginning to affect the residents of Musina, with thousands of Zimbabweans flooding this border town.

Musina is near Beitbridge, South Africa's last border town before you enter Zimbabwe.

The "elusive" presidential election results, the simmering tensions and political and economic instability in Zimbabwe are the main contributing factors towards the huge influx of illegal immigrants into South Africa.

A Sowetan team visited the area last week to determine how the locals felt about the exodus of Zimbabweans into their small mining town.

Business people in the town said business had dropped a bit after the elections.

A businessman who preferred to remain anonymous said: "Although it is business as usual, people from Zimbabwe live in fear. They don't know if the situation in their country will ever return to normal."

At the border gate, many Zimbabweans make a living by exchanging Zimbabwean currency into South African rands.

Victor Nkomo, 31, from a village near Bulawayo, said this was to ensure that tourists did not have to stand in long bank queues to change currencies.

"Though the profit made from the exchange is not much, we are at least able to provide something for our families," he said.

Nhlanhla Dube, 24, said though he had voted in the recent elections, he was looking forward to voting again.

"All I want in Zimbabwe is a regime change. President Robert Mugabe has overstayed his welcome. It is time for him to pass on the baton to someone else if he really is a democrat," said Dube who also comes from a village near Bulawayo.

Lebogang Mokoena, a resident of Musina, said they had learnt to accept Zimbabweans as their own brothers and sisters. "We are talking about human beings who have to be taken care of."