Zimbos on the move

Sinqobile Tessa
RISKY: Zimbabweans crossing Limpopo River to South Africa

Migration surges under Mnangagwa

Some people have never wavered from the belief that the late former President, Robert Mugabe, was a much better leader than his successor, our current leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Perhaps they’re right after all!

The latest population census has revealed an increase in unemployed citizens leaving the country than during Mugabe’s time in power.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats) preliminary results from this year’s census, there are less than a million Zimbabweans living abroad, with South Africa confirmed as home to the largest number of 773,246.

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“There was a sharp increase on the number of emigrants between 1980 and 1990 that was followed by a sharp decline between 1990 and 2000. There was a steady increase in the number of emigrants between 2001 and 2015 and thereafter there was a sharp increase that reached peak in 2021,” reads the report.

Also according to the report, migration figures went up to above 40,000 per year during the period that Mnangagwa took over in 2017, doubling to 80,000 in 2021.

What is even more disturbing is that people were so desperate to leave even at the peak of Covid-19 when borders were closed as the report indicates migration figures remained high during that time.

When Mugabe was forced to resign in 2017 following a military coup, there was joy and jubilation among many Zimbos as they thought it signaled the end of the economic problems that had bedeviled the country for more than a decade. Time would prove us all fools!

The new regime did not bring the much anticipated hope and positive economic change, much to the despair of many who then decided to leave the country as evidenced by the census findings.

ZimStats figures have, however, been questioned as it believed there are actually way more than a million living outside the country.

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In one of its reports, the International Organisation for Migration estimated that close to 3 million Zimbabweans live abroad in countries such as South Africa, Botswana, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand among many other nations.

“Due to its proximity to Zimbabwe, Botswana hosts the second largest Zimbabwean migrant population in the region. An estimated 40,000 Zimbabweans are among foreign workers in Botswana, with most of them employed in agriculture, construction, education, health and financial services,” notes the organisation.

South Africa, meanwhile, has of late been complaining that illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe are putting a strain on its services, especially in the health sector.

Sadly, there is not even the slightest glimmer of hope that things will change for the better in the foreseeable future, meaning more Zimbos will continue to cross the borders in search of better living conditions; this is the grim reality we live in!

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