Zimbabwean Kiwis find a home away from hell

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Zimbabweans living in New Zealand have called their homeland hell, saying they do not regret fleeing their troubled country in the hope of a better life overseas.

Shupayi Mpunga, a mother of two, has lived in Christchurch for nearly four years. She left Zimbabwe to find a better future for her children.

"I have two teenaged children. I don't have to worry about theirsafety, don't have to go to work and worry that there might be another strike - I can let them play outside and go to the movies - which I would've had to think twice before doing back home," she said.

Ms Mpunga says living in New Zealand is a welcome relief from the hardships which she and many Zimbabweans suffered under President Robert Mugabe's rule.

"He's dragged us through dirt and treated us like crap. He's taken advantage of the spirit of the Zimbabwean people and he's had so manypeople murdered just for power.

"In Zimbabwe, the cops know who you are and there's a struggle with democratic principle," she said.

Mandla Akhe, who has been in New Zealand for six years, worked for the Zimbabwe elections support network before he left, after a "collapse of democratic right" occurred.

"I just felt weak, tired and completely dejected. I'd had enough."

Mr Akhe acknowledged the want of local people to better their country, but said they were helpless due to absent politicians and lack of freedom of speech.

"The one word I'd tell you as to how to describe your life in Zimbabwe is hell. Your life would be hell.

"You would not have any power, you're not guaranteed water, you would lead a medieval life - using the bushes to relieve yourself - and you would not know where your next meal would come from.

"You survive on barter-trade because the currency is worthless."

Mr Akhe said: "The reality is, yes, it's dangerous if you're against the status quo.

It's a long way to freedom."

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