As South Africa prepares to go the polls next week, expatriates nearly always mention two obstacles when asked if they would ever move back: crime and the lack of jobs.
South Africans who left after the end of apartheid 15 years ago -- most of them white -- said better job opportunities and less fear of crime abroad made it difficult to head home, no matter how much the country needs them and their skills.
Standing in line to vote in London last Wednesday -- overseas voters cast their ballots a week before the April 22 presidential and parliamentary election -- expats showed little desire to give up well-paid work in Britain and return.
"I think most people would like to go back one day, but everyone is waiting to see what happens over the next five years," said Marcel Van Wyk (29), a commodities trader, as he waited to vote outside the South African high commission in London.
"Most people know the ANC is going to win this one; I think the next election will be the big one for them," he said.
Thousands of South Africans left home after the African National Congress came to power in 1994, in the first all-race elections that ended white minority rule. More than 140 000 live in the United Kingdom, according to the 2001 UK Census, and many more have settled in the United States, Australia, New Zealand.
The exodus, depriving South Africa of skilled workers in the health and business sectors, prompted groups like Homecoming Revolution, a non-profit group sponsored by a South African bank, to urge them to come home and support the economy.
As the financial crisis wipes out swathes of jobs in London, some South Africans are looking for work back home, and several Johannesburg executives and bankers have cited a sharp increase in job applications from overseas. full story