HARARE – In recent weeks, Zimbabweans have witnessed a sad and grim experience of human trafficking.
Dozens of Zimbabwean girls and women — weary of the country’s endless woes — returned home in tears after promises of a better life in Kuwait turned out to be a painful and miserable ordeal.
These women and girls were courageous.
They travelled thousands of kilometres to Kuwait — where most of them knew no-one, let alone the unfamiliar Asian culture — in search of economic opportunities and a better livelihood. That was no mean feat.
Kuwait is uncharted territory for Zimbabweans. Surely, what compelled most of these women to go as far as Kuwait is certainly neither the love of money nor a luxurious life.
They were not tourists in Kuwait. Actually, they were economic refugees.
The opportunities offered in Kuwait, though they turned out to be a scam, seemed to be a chance for them, some decently educated, to escape Zimbabwe’s worsening poverty and unemployment.
Of course, this is not the first time for Zimbabweans to migrate en-masse.
Around 1998-2000, scores of Zimbabweans migrated to the United Kingdom and other European countries in search of greener pastures.
But there is something peculiar about this latest Kuwait saga. It goes to show how hard-pressed and desperate the ordinary Zimbabweans have become at the hands of the ruling Zanu PF government.
It exposes President Robert Mugabe and his administration’s failure to manage the economy. It displays Mugabe’s bad and poor leadership, and lack of capacity to clean the economic mess he created.
Since the 92-year-old leader won the controversial July 2013 election, Zimbabwe’s economy has nose-dived, with hundreds of firms shutting down, thousands losing jobs and the few remaining investors pulling out of the country.
In the run-up to the polls, through which he effectively wrestled power from then Prime Minister in the unity government — Morgan Tsvangirai — Mugabe made ambitious promises to Zimbabweans.
Among the promises, made under the much-crowed about Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, Mugabe promised to create 2,2 million jobs.
But three years down the line, Zanu PF has not created any single job. Mugabe’s promises were empty. This has led to the scores of Zimbabwean women, left with not much choice, trooping to Kuwait in search of jobs. And sadly, they have been abused and turned to “slaves”.
Mr President, all Zimbabweans want are better, stable and predictable lives. They want jobs so that they can put food on the table, pay their children’s school fees and own decent homes.
Mugabe is to blame for the humiliating and traumatising ordeal the Zimbabwean women went through in Kuwait.