"Why I am staying in London this Christmas"

LONDON, (IRIN) – In the last decade it is thought that more than three million Zimbabweans, or about a quarter of the population, have left the country. Tens of thousands of skilled workers emigrated to Britain, the former colonial power.

Sindiso Mpofu works as nurse in London, and has in recent years been seen as the family’s Father Christmas, returning each year laden with gifts, like money and medicines.

"There are so many things which have made me decide not to return home for the festive season. There appears to be a lot of uncertainty in Zimbabwe and I don’t want to be trapped inside Zimbabwe and fail to return to a better living and working environment.

"The issue of soldiers who rampaged recently has only added to my anxiety, because what would I do if all the soldiers sealed off the borders? Or if a state of emergency was declared while I was still in Zimbabwe?

"As a health worker, I am only too aware of how vulnerable I would be to contracting cholera if I went to Zimbabwe.

"I am also aware of the possibilities of exposing my family and neighbours in London if I was to contract it [cholera], as I am most likely to if I go back home, so I think this time I will give it a miss.

"The truth of the matter is that in March, when the [opposition party] Movement for Democratic Change appeared to be on its way to winning the elections, there were wild celebrations [in London], as people said they were ready to contribute to the reconstruction of their country.

"We still want to return home because many are so homesick. I discussed with friends that if there is a political solution, most of the problems would go away.

"This would see problems like cholera and hunger being eliminated, enabling most of us to return home.

"Of course, we will not just ship families back home. We would monitor developments for maybe two years, while my children and wife continue to attend schools and work in the UK. But many people are ready to go back home."