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Zimbabwe’s Exodus
Crisis, Migration, Survival

Edited by
Jonathan Crush and Daniel Tevera

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Published by SAMP, Cape Town and IDRC, Ottawa

Southern African Migration Programme - Canada
152 Albert Street
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6
Canada

www.queensu.ca/samp/
samp@queensu.ca

Southern African Migration Programme - Southern Africa
6 Spin Street
Church Square
Cape Town

International Development Research Centre
PO Box 8500
Ottawa, ON K1G 3H9
Canada

www.idrc.ca
info@idrc.ca

ISBN 978-1-55250-499-4 (ebook)

ISBN 978-1-920409-22-7

© Copyright SAMP

First published 2010

Cover by Joan Baker and Jacana Media
Layout by Joan Baker, waterberrydesigns cc
Production by Idasa Publishing

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior permission from the publishers.

Bound and printed by Unity Press, Cape Town

Contents

Foreword

ix

Acknowledgements

xi

Acronyms

xii

Chapter One
Exiting Zimbabwe
Jonathan Crush and Daniel Tevera

1

Chapter Two
A History of Zimbabwean Migration to 1990
Alois S. Mlambo

52

Chapter Three
Internal Migration in Zimbabwe: The Impact of Livelihood Destruction in Rural and Urban Areas
Deborah Potts

79

Chapter Four
Discontent and Departure: Attitudes of Skilled Zimbabweans Towards Emigration
Daniel Tevera and Jonathan Crush

112

Chapter Five
Nursing the Health System: The Migration of Health Professionals from Zimbabwe
Abel Chikanda

133

Chapter Six
Transnational Lives: The Experience of Zimbabweans in Britain
Alice Bloch

156

Chapter Seven
Between Obligation, Profit and Shame: Zimbabwean
Migrants and the UK Care Industry
JoAnn McGregor

179

Chapter Eight
Regendering the Zimbabwean Diaspora in Britain
Dominic Pasura

207

Chapter Nine
Zimbabwe in Johannesburg
Daniel Makina

225

Chapter Ten
Zimbabweans on the Farms of Northern South Africa
Blair Rutherford

244

Chapter Eleven
The voices of Migrant Zimbabwean Women in South Africa
Kate Lefko-Everett

269

Chapter Twelve
Smuggling on the Zimbabwe–Mozambique Border
Nedson Pophiwa

291

Chapter Thirteen
Migrant Remittances and Household Survival in Zimbabwe
Daniel Tevera, Jonathan Crush and Abel Chikanda

307

Chapter Fourteen
Remittances, Informalisation and Dispossession in Urban Zimbabwe
Sarah Bracking and Lloyd Sachikonye

324

Chapter Fifteen
Transnationalism and Undocumented Migration Between
Rural Zimbabwe and South Africa
France Maphosa

346

Chapter Sixteen
Metaphors of Migration: Zimbabwean Migrants in the South African Media
Aquilina Mawadza and Jonathan Crush

363

Chapter Seventeen
Silence and Fragmentation: South African Responses to Zimbabwean Migration
Tara Polzer

377

Contributors

400

Index

401

List of figures

Figure 1.1:

Recorded Cross-Border Movement from Zimbabwe to South Africa, 1983-2008

5

Figure 4.1:

Emigration Potential by Age Group

120

Figure 5.1:

Zimbabwean Health Professionals in the UK, 1995-2003

137

Figure 5.2:

Registered Nurses in Zimbabwe, 1995-2001

138

Figure 5.3:

Zimbabwean Nurses Registered in the United Kingdom, 1998-2007

139

Figure 5.4:

The Stepwise Migration of Zimbabwean Nurse Professionals

140

Figure 5.5:

Number of Nurses in the Public Health Sector, 1991-2000

142

Figure 5.6:

Public versus Private Sector Share of Nurses

143

Figure 6.1:

Zimbabwean Applications for Asylum in the UK (Excluding Dependants), 1998 to 2006

157

Figure 6.2:

Reasons for Leaving Zimbabwe

159

Figure 6.3:

Pre- and Post-Migration Employment

162

Figure 6.4:

Numbers of Hours Worked Per Week

166

Figure 6.5:

Conditions for Return to Zimbabwe

170

Figure 6.6:

Changes That Would Encourage Development Contribution

172

Figure 9.1:

Annual Arrivals in Johannesburg

226

Figure 9.2:

Cumulative Zimbabwean Population in Johannesburg

227

Figure 9.3:

Economic versus Political Reasons for Migration

229

Figure 9.4:

Annual Arrivals in Johannesburg by Sex

231

Figure 9.5:

Age Profile of Zimbabwean Migrants in Johannesburg

232

Figure 13.1:

Average Share of Expenses Paid from Remittances

316

Figure 14.1:

Monthly Average Household Income

327

Figure 14.2:

Relationship of Remitters to Recipients in Low-Density Harare

330

List of tables

Table 1.1:

Location of Zimbabwean Migrants Within SADC

6

Table 1.2:

Zimbabwean Migrant Stock by Region

7

Table 1.3:

Location of Zimbabweans in South Africa, 2001

8

Table 1.4:

Stated Purpose of Entry from Zimbabwe to South Africa, 2002-8

8

Table 1.5:

Zimbabwean Entrants to United Kingdom, 2002-7

9

Table 1.6:

Length of Migratory Experience

10

Table 1.7:

Demographic Profile of Migrants

11

Table 1.8:

Occupational Profile of Zimbabweans

12

Table 1.9:

Frequency of Return

13

Table 1.10:

Sex of International Migrants, 2005

17

Table 2.1:

White Population Increase 1891-1969

55

Table 2.2:

White Population by Country of Birth, 1901-1956

57

Table 2.3:

White Population by Country of Birth, 1969

58

Table 2.4:

White Net Migration and Natural Increase, 1901-1969

58

Table 2.5:

White Population Sex Ratio, 1901-1956

59

Table 2.6:

Racial Composition of Population, 1911-1951

59

Table 2.7:

Net White Migration, 1921-1964

60

Table 2.8:

Net White Migration, 1972-1979

62

Table 2.9:

Africans Employed in Mining, 1906-10

64

Table 2.10:

African Population by Nationality, Salisbury, 1911-1969

65

Table 2.11:

Origin of African Male Employees in Zimbabwe, 1911-1951

66

Table 2.12:

Foreign Workers in Zimbabwe, 1956

67

Table 2.13:

Foreign Workers in Commercial Agriculture, 1941-74

67

Table 2.14:

Contract Labour Migration to South African Mines, 1920-90

68

Table 2.15:

Foreign Black Workers Employed Legally in South Africa

69

Table 2.16:

Immigrants to Zimbabwe by Category, 1978-1987

71

Table 3.1:

Urban Population Growth Rates, 1982-2002

82

Table 3.2:

Provincial Population Distribution by Land-Use Category, 1992 and 2002

84

Table 3.3:

Provincial Population Growth Indices, 1992-2002

88

Table 3.4:

Interprovincial Lifetime Migration, 2002

91

Table 3.5:

Inter-Censal, Interprovincial Migration, 2002

93

Table 4.1:

Employment Sectors of Professionals

115

Table 4.2:

Distribution of Professionals’ Race and Residence

116

Table 4.3:

Age and Sex of Professionals

116

Table 4.4:

Demographic Profile of Students

118

Table 4.5:

Commitment to Emigrate Amongst Skilled Zimbabweans

121

Table 4.6:

Potential Destinations of Emigrants from Zimbabwe

124

Table 4.7:

Satisfaction with the Quality of Life in Zimbabwe

125

Table 4.8:

Perceptions of Future Conditions in Zimbabwe

126

Table 4.9:

Comparison Between Zimbabwe and Most Likely Destination

127

Table 4.10:

Student Satisfaction/Expectations about Economic Conditions

128

Table 5.1:

Profile of Nurses

135

Table 5.2:

Distribution of Zimbabwe-Trained Nurses, 2005

136

Table 5.3:

Registered Nurses, 1997-2000

140

Table 5.4:

Nurse Staffing Patterns at Selected Public Health Institutions

144

Table 5.5:

Most Likely Destinations of Zimbabwean Migrants

145

Table 5.6:

Reasons for Intention to Move

146

Table 5.7:

Patient Attendance at Selected Health Institutions in Zimbabwe, 1995-2000

149

Table 6.1:

Current Immigration Status

160

Table 6.2:

Most Recent Job Prior to Emigration

163

Table 6.3:

Current or Most Recent Job in the UK

164

Table 6.4:

Remittances to Zimbabwe from UK

169

Table 6.5:

Potential Contributions to Development in Zimbabwe

171

Table 9.1:

Location of Zimbabweans in Johannesburg, 2001

228

Table 9.2:

Zimbabwean Population in South Africa, 2001-2007

228

Table 9.3:

Source Areas of Zimbabweans in Johannesburg

230

Table 9.4:

Age Profile of Zimbabweans in Johannesburg

231

Table 9.5:

Age Profile of Zimbabwean Migrants by Sex

233

Table 9.6:

Educational Profile of Zimbabweans in Johannesburg

234

Table 9.7:

Migrant Employment in Johannesburg

235

Table 9.8:

Migrant Earnings in Johannesburg

237

Table 9.9:

Number of Dependants Supported in Zimbabwe and South Africa

237

Table 9.10:

Remittances to Zimbabwe from Johannesburg

237

Table 9.11:

Migrant Savings

238

Table 9.12:

Probability of Return Migration

239

Table 10.1:

Age Distribution of Farmworkers

249

Table 10.2:

Educational Level of Farmworkers

250

Table 10.3:

Marital and Provider Status of Farmworkers

250

Table 10.4:

Documents Used to Enter South Africa

252

Table 10.5:

Years Worked on Farm

252

Table 10.6:

Previous Job in Zimbabwe

253

Table 10.7:

Farm Jobs by Sex

256

Table 10.8:

Monthly Wages

256

Table 10.9:

Number of People Supported in Zimbabwe

261

Table 13.1:

Annual Remittances by Frequency of Remitting

308

Table 13.2:

Main Remittance Channels

309

Table 13.3:

Amount Brought Home on Last visit

310

Table 13.4:

Preferred Methods of Remitting Goods

311

Table 13.5:

value of Goods Brought Home

311

Table 13.6:

Annual Remittances by Migrant Destination

312

Table 13.7:

Annual Cash Remittances by Occupation

313

Table 13.8:

Annual Cash Remittances by Skill Level

314

Table 13.9:

Perceived Importance of Remittances to Household

315

Table 13.10:

Household Income

315

Table 13.11:

Perceived Importance of Remittances to Household

317

Table 13.12:

Expenditure of Remittances

317

Table 13.13:

Food Poverty Index

318

Table 13.14:

Lived Poverty Index

319

Table 14.1:

Sex and Location of Respondents

326

Table 14.2:

Monthly Average Household Income by Type of Suburb

327

Table 14.3:

Receiving Households, 2005 and 2006

328

Table 14.4:

Households Receiving Goods and/or Money by Suburb, 2005 and 2006

329

Table 14.5:

Relationship of Primary Remitter to Household

330

Table 14.6:

Relationship to Sender

331

Table 14.7:

Timing of Most Recent Receipt

332

Table 14.8:

Regularity of Receipt of Money

332

Table 14.9:

Main Remittance Channel for Goods

333

Table 14.10:

Explanation for Choice of Mode of Transit of Goods

334

Table 14.11:

Channels for Cash Remittances

334

Table 14.12:

Money Changing Methods

335

Table 14.13:

Frequency of Return visits

337

Table 14.14:

Number of People Supported by Remittances

338

Foreword

Stories about migration are full of stereotypes and over-simplification. “Aliens” invade “our” country, bringing a foreign culture; people uproot their lives and move in response to shifts in relative wages; remittances promote economic development “back home.” Often, there is a grain of truth behind these ideas. Migration does bring about a mingling of cultures; relative wage rates do matter; and remittances have helped finance new capital formation. But the grain of truth is most often enveloped, and over-powered, by myths, exaggerations and selective use of evidence, both inadvertent and – sometimes – deliberate. Both pro- and anti-migration orthodoxies suffer from these faults.

Zimbabwe’s Exodus: Crisis, Migration, Survival is both an easy and a challenging book to read. It is easy because it is well-organised and well-written, drawing on leading experts and the latest research in the field. It is challenging precisely for the reasons that make it a successful and important book, because it dissects myths, analyses stereotypes, and reveals the complexities and ambiguities of the very difficult questions it addresses. Neither pro- nor anti-migration orthodoxies are spared.

I appreciate this book for three other reasons as well. First, it situates the recent migration out of Zimbabwe in its proper historical context. In most of the western media, the decline of Zimbabwe dates from and is attributed to the land reforms of 2000-2003. This book clearly situates the migration question in a generalised socio-economic decline that was underway for a decade before that. Zimbabwe’s long history as a site of migration, to and from other countries and within the country, is appropriately highlighted, as is the question of borders, both international and, in colonial times, internal borders within the then Rhodesia.

Secondly, the authors deal with issues of social differentiation – gender, social class and ethnicity – head-on. This involves tackling in a forthright manner some ugly questions of sexual violence, racism, poor governance, corruption and discrimination within Zimbabwe, in its neighbouring states and further abroad.

Thirdly, the book looks at migration from a variety of perspectives and academic disciplines. Migration is examined at its micro-, macro- and sectoral levels, using large-scale surveys and in-depth interviews, media reports and official statistics, quantitative and qualitative methods. The result is a rich and multi-faceted set of studies that is worth spending time with.

Naturally, this book will be of great interest to Zimbabweans at home and abroad, and to all others interested in the political economy of modern Zimbabwe. But this book will also be of great interest to specialists and students in migration and development studies more generally, given the quality and the incisiveness of the contributions that the authors and editors bring to the field.

Canada’s International Development Research Centre has supported several research projects on migration in recent years, including this one. I am delighted to see this fine collection in print.

Lauchlan T. Munro
vice President
International Development Research Centre
Ottawa, Canada

Acknowledgements

We extend our grateful thanks to all the contributors to this book for agreeing to provide chapters, responding quickly and generously to our editorial suggestions and showing great patience while the manuscript was being readied for publication. We would also like to thank Abel Chikanda, Ashley Hill, JoAnn McGregor, Miriam Grant, Kate Lefko-Everett, Aquilina Mawadza, Blair Rutherford and Godfrey Tawodzera for providing us with oral testimonies by Zimbabwean migrants or conducting interviews on our behalf. Our thanks to the following for their assistance with the manuscript at various stages of production: Cassandra Eberhardt, Meg Freer, Ashley Hill, Moira Levy, Bronwen Müller, Jennie Payne and vincent Williams. The cover photograph is from Peter Mackenzie’s Photographic Exhibition for SAMP entitled “Here and There.” It shows a young Zimbabwean migrant leaving the informal settlement of Olievenhoutbosch, Gauteng, with his belongings following xenophobic attacks in the settlement. Edgard Rodriguez, Basil Jones and Paul Okwi of IDRC were very supportive of SAMP and co-publication. We would like to thank the IDRC for funding the SAMP project “Migration, Poverty Reduction and Development in Southern Africa.” We would also like to acknowledge the UK-DFID, CIDA, IOM, PRM and the SSHRC for their support of SAMP.

Jonathan Crush
Daniel Tevera

Acronyms

BSAC

British South Africa Com-pany

CIDA

Canadian International Development Agency

CoRMSA

Consor-tium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa

COSATU

Congress of South African Trade Unions

CSO

Central Statistical Office

DHA

Department of Home Affairs

DRC

Democratic Republic of Congo

ESRC

Economic and Social Research Council

EU

European Union

GDP

gross domestic product

ICRC

International Committee of the Red Cross

IDRC

International Development Research Centre

IFRC

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

IMF

International Monetary Fund

IOM

International Organiza-tion for Migration

LPI

Lived Poverty Index

MARS

Migration and Remittances Survey

MBA

Master of Business Administration

MLD

most likely destination

MoHCW

Ministry of Health and Child Welfare

MV

Migrant voices Project

NDMC

National Disaster Manage-ment Centre

NHS

National Health Service

NRC

Native Recruiting Corporation

NGO

non-governmental organization

NMC

Nursing and Midwifery Council

OAU

Organization for African Unity

OECD

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

PRM

US State Department’ Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration

PSBS

Potential Skills Base Survey

RENAMO

Mozambican Resistance Movement

RNLB

Rhodesia Native Labour Bureau

RNLSC

Rhodesia Native Labour Supply Commis-sion

RNs

Registered Nurses

SADC

Southern African Development Community

SAHRC

South African Human Rights Commission

SAMP

Southern African Migration Programme

SAP

structural adjustment programme

SAPA

South African Press Association

SAQA

South African Qualifications Authority

SARCS

South African Red Cross Society

SSHRC

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

UDI

(Rhodesian) unilateral declaration of independence

UK

United Kingdom

UK-DFID

UK Department for International Development

UN

United Nations

UNHCR

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

VAT

value Added Tax

WHO

World Health Organization

WNLA

Witwatersrand Native Labour Association

ZIMRA

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority

ZWD

Zimbabwean dollar

Chapter One
Exiting Zimbabwe

Jonathan Crush and Daniel Tevera

When modern states go into terminal decline or fail altogether, the predictable response of ordinary people is to get out, as soon as they can, to wherever they can go.1 Zimbabwe has now joined the list of ‘crisis-driven’ migrations which includes such recent African crises as Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Somalia and Sierra Leone.2 Twenty years ago, despite growing political authoritarianism, few would have predicted this fate for Zimbabwe. Following a bitter and protracted independence war, Zimbabwe made major economic and social gains in the 1980s. After 1990, however, the accelerating social, political and economic unravelling of the country led to a rush for the exits. An economy in free-fall, soaring inflation and unemployment, the collapse of public services, political oppression and deepening poverty proved to be powerful, virtually irresistible, push factors for many Zimbabweans.3 The proximity of Zimbabwe to countries such as Botswana and South Africa, and the demand for Zimbabwean professionals abroad, provided people with somewhere to go.4 The numbers exiting Zimbabwe increased in the 1990s and have risen sharply since 2000.5

Mass out-migration would seem to be a perfectly predictable consequence of Zimbabwe’s economic and social collapse. As one commentator recently observed, the exodus of hundreds of thousands of people is the result of “the Zimbabwe government’s political actions and the country’s decline [which] have led to their economic destitution and desperation, and have ultimately forced them to leave the country to survive the political and economic crisis.”6 However, although large numbers have left, the majority remain. Given the ruinous state of the country’s economy, it remains a puzzle as to who, why, and indeed how, anyone could stay. The transformation of Zimbabwe from breadbasket to basket-case has been a protracted process lasting well over two decades.7 Migration (both internal and international) has varied considerably in volume, direction and character over that period. While out-migration is a common response to socioeconomic disintegration, it can also accelerate that process, leading, in turn, to further migration.

Emigration has led to crippling skills losses in the public and private sectors in Zimbabwe over the last two decades. No country could experience this kind of professional brain drain without it seriously affecting the quality of education and healthcare, the productivity of the private sector or the efficiency of the public. This is something of a vicious cycle, for as the rot sets in, workloads increase and employment conditions deteriorate so more skilled people, in turn, decide to leave. Without a compensating inflow of skilled immigrants, the cycle is difficult to break. Immigration to Zimbabwe came to a virtual standstill in the 1990s. Emigration without immigration has clearly facilitated the economic and social collapse of Zimbabwe. Yet emigration also shapes the character and speed of decline and can sometimes, paradoxically, even slow its pace. It does this by providing people who remain behind with the remittances and other resources to survive increasingly intolerable personal circumstances.

The essays in this volume focus on the connections between economic and social decline and migration since 1990 in Zimbabwe. These connections are explored from different angles and use a number of different methodologies ranging from large-scale national surveys to individual life histories. The volume also seeks to give contemporary migration movements historical depth and to place them in their regional and international context. Historically, Zimbabwe has simultaneously been a country of in-migration and out-migration. In the last two decades of decline, it has become a place almost exclusively of out-migration. In terms of theoretical context, the volume seeks to situate the Zimbabwean case within the current high-profile international debate on the relationship between migration and development.8 As scholars of migration from “failing states” have pointed out, this debate is especially relevant in the case of countries, like Zimbabwe, that are undergoing accelerating poverty, economic collapse, de-development and mass out-migration.9

The introduction to this volume is divided into three sections. The first section provides a socio-demographic profile of the Zimbabwean migrant population. Then we examine some of the major themes of the contemporary international migration-development debate and relate them to the situation in Zimbabwe. Finally, the chapter summarises how the individual chapters relate to one another and to the themes of the book as a whole.

ZIMBABWE’S DIASPORA: A PROFILE

Estimates of the number of Zimbabweans who have left the country in recent years vary widely – from the barely plausible to the totally outlandish. Excoriating the South African government for its foreign policy stance on Zimbabwe, veteran journalist Allister Sparks recently argued that there were three million Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa and that without a tougher line against Robert Mugabe, South Africa “could well see another two million pour in here.”10 Whatever the truth of his numerical claims (and most knowledgeable commentators would think them highly exaggerated), this kind of alarmism omits a crucial dimension of the migration equation.11 What Sparks overlooks is that every Zimbabwean working in South Africa supports an average of five people at home. As long as each migrant is able to support dependants in Zimbabwe, they will tend to stay where they are. In other words, but for migration there would be a great deal more migration than there has been. This is only one of the many paradoxes of Zimbabwe’s recent migration history.

The South African media claims that there are three million Zimbabweans in South Africa. The earliest use of this figure dates back to 2003; the most recent, early 2009. What are we to make of the inference that the number of Zimbabweans in the country has not increased in six years? After all, this is the same media that for the last six years has plied its readership with stories of Zimbabweans “pouring” and “flooding” across the Limpopo. Does this mean that there are now well over three million or that the 2003 figure was incorrect? And if it was correct, then what is the actual number now? To resolve this contradiction, it is helpful to know where the three million figure first came from.

The original source seems to have been former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who reportedly told Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon in October 2003 that “he has three million Zimbabweans in South Africa, Chissano (Mozambique) has 400,000 while Botswana hosts up to 200,000 of them.”12 The Department of Home Affairs, cited in the same article, contradicted Mbeki by stating that there was no way of knowing how many Zimbabweans were in the country because they enter illegally: “These people do not use the designated ports of entry but enter the country clandestinely by jumping the borders, swimming through the river etc.”13 Here, in one article, are the two elements that have characterized all reporting on Zimbabwean migration to South Africa. Migration flows are in the “millions” and migrants from Zimbabwe (“these people”) are “illegal.” The South African media and officialdom have a history of making up numbers about migration to the country.14 These numbers, often highly exaggerated for alarmist effect, acquire a life of their own once they enter the public realm. Tracking down their source usually reveals that they have no sound statistical basis.

The Zimbabwean government has not kept any reliable statistics of departures. South Africa, the main receiving country, can tell how many Zimbabweans enter the country legally every month and the stated purpose of entry but publishes no corresponding record of departures. In addition, there are no reliable estimates at all of how many migrants enter South Africa clandestinely. Further complicating matters is the migration behaviour of many Zimbabwean migrants within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region who return home extremely frequently for periods of time.

The majority of migrants from Zimbabwe head either for South Africa or the United Kingdom. The volume of legal cross-border traffic between Zimbabwe and South Africa has gone through several phases since Zimbabwean independence (Figure 1.1). For most of the 1980s, about 200,000 people crossed from Zimbabwe into South Africa each year. In the early 1990s, with the collapse of apartheid and growing economic hardship in Zimbabwe, the numbers increased dramatically, peaking at 750,000 in 1994. Thereafter, the numbers actually fell again, reflecting the tightening of restrictions on Zimbabwean movement by the post-apartheid South African government. These restrictions gradually eased after the passage of the 2002 Immigration Act. In 2000, around 500,000 people crossed legally from Zimbabwe into South Africa.15 By 2008, this figure had more than doubled to 1.25 million. In the case of the United Kingdom, official immigration statistics show a recent decline in the entry of Zimbabweans from 56,600 in 2002 to 39,250 in 2007. Most of the drop is in the “visitors” category, a result of increased restrictions on entry to the UK.

In 2001, according to the South African Census and the United Nations (UN) “migrant stock” database, a total of 131,887 Zimbabwean-born people were in South Africa and 49,890 were in the United Kingdom. The South African figure included 66,033 black and 64,261 white Zimbabweans. The number of black Zimbabweans in South Africa at any one time has undoubtedly increased since 2001 but by how much is uncertain. The World Bank has estimated that in 2005 there were 510,084 Zimbabweans in South Africa (although the basis for this estimation is unclear). In this volume, Makina uses a different methodology to arrive at a figure of 1,022,965 in 2007. Whatever the precise numbers, it is clear that there has been a substantial increase in migration from Zimbabwe to South Africa since 2000 and a drop in migration to the United Kingdom.

image

Figure 1.1: Recorded Cross-Border Movement from Zimbabwe to South Africa, 1983-2008 Source: South African Department of Trade and Industry

Within SADC, 55 percent of the Zimbabwean migrant stock in 2001 was in South Africa, followed by Mozambique (17 percent), Zambia (16 percent) and Malawi (16 percent) (Table 1.1). A Southern African Migration Progamme (SAMP) sample survey (conducted in 2005) found that 58 percent of Zimbabwean migrants were within the SADC region. The two data sources suggest some interesting changes in migration patterns. For example, the proportion of Zimbabweans outside SADC seems to have increased from 33 percent to 41 percent. Since migration to the UK became more difficult, this trend – if verifiable – might suggest a greater global dispersal of Zimbabwean migrants. Within SADC, the proportion of SADC migrants in South Africa remained virtually constant (at around 55 percent) but there appears to have been a very significant increase in movement to Botswana (from 1.5 percent to 28 percent) and corresponding fall in migration to Mozambique (17 percent to 9 percent), Zambia (16 percent to 4 percent) and Malawi (7 percent to 1.5 percent).

Table 1.1: Location of Zimbabwean Migrants Within SADC

 

2001 UN Migrant Stock

2005 SAMP Survey

Country

% of Global

% in SADC

% of Global

% in SADC

South Africa

36.9

54.8

32.3

55.8

Mozambique

11.2

16.7

5.1

8.8

Zambia

10.6

15.7

2.1

3.6

Malawi

4.5

6.7

0.9

1.5

Botswana

1.0

1.5

16.1

27.8

Angola

1.0

1.4

1.0

1.5

DRC

1.0

1.4

<0.1

<0.1

Tanzania

1.0

1.4

0.2

0.4

Seychelles

0.1

0.1

<0.1

<0.1

Lesotho

0.1

0.1

<0.1

<0.1

Swaziland

<0.1

<0.1

<0.1

<0.1

Namibia

<0.1

<0.1

<0.1

<0.1

Madagascar

<0.1

<0.1

<0.1

<0.1

Mauritius

<0.1

<0.1

<0.1

<0.1

Total

66.5

100.0

58.9

100.0

Source: UN, SAMP

The UN Migrant Stock database suggests that the Zimbabwean-born diaspora was already becoming global in its distribution in 2001. Nearly 20 percent of the global migrant stock was located in Western Europe, 5 percent in North America, 4 percent in Australasia and 3 percent in the rest of Africa (Table 1.2). Of the 222 jurisdictions (countries and other territories) reported in the database, 192 (or 86 percent) have at least one Zimbabwean-born person. However, certain countries have clearly been major destinations. They include the United Kingdom (14 percent of the global stock), the United States (3.5 percent), Australia (3.3 percent), Germany (2.8 percent) and Canada (1.2 percent).

Table 1.2: Zimbabwean Migrant Stock by Region

Region

No.

% Global Stock

Southern Africa

240,494

66.5

East & Central Africa

1,087

0.3

West Africa

9,012

2.5

North Africa & The Horn

715

0.2

Western Europe

66,910

18.4

Eastern Europe

4,068

1.1

Australasia & Pacific

14,664

4.1

North America

16,598

4.6

Latin America

397

0.1

Caribbean

193

0.1

Middle East

2,872

0.8

Asia

4,733

1.3

Total

361,743

100.0

Source: UN

At the time of the 2001 South African Census, 52 percent of recorded Zimbabweans were in the province of Gauteng, with smaller numbers in KwaZulu-Natal (13 percent), Limpopo (12 percent) and the Western Cape (9 percent) (Table 1.3). Most of the post-2000 doubling of movement from Zimbabwe to South Africa came from migrants who declared their purpose of entry as “holiday,” an all-purpose category that conceals a multitude of motives for entry and provides no insights at all into what people actually do in South Africa (Table 1.4). Very few, we can be sure, were “on holiday.” They were joining or visiting relatives, getting medical help unavailable at home, buying and selling goods and, of course, making money to send or take home. They are legally in the country but they are certainly not on holiday. The number of legitimate entrants on “business” remained virtually stable over the period. The numbers of legal entrants for work and study did increase but remained a small proportion of the total. The numbers with legal work permits increased from 3,500 in 2001 to 21,000 in 2008, suggesting that it has become easier to legally employ Zimbabweans in South Africa since the 2002 Immigration Act was passed. However, a greater number are almost certainly working without permits.

Table 1.3: Location of Zimbabweans in South Africa, 2001

 

Male

Female

Total

%

Eastern Cape

2,570

2,691

5,261

4.0

Free State

930

689

1,619

1.2

Gauteng

40,822

27,788

68,610

52.0

Kwazulu-Natal

7,986

8,812

16,798

12.7

Limpopo

9,865

6,317

16,182

12.3

Mpumalanga

2,941

2,042

4,983

3.8

Northern Cape

200

186

386

0.3

North West

4,216

1,895

6,111

4.6

Western Cape

5,428

6,508

11,936

9.1

Total

74,958

59,628

131,886

100.0

Source: Statistics South Africa

Table 1.4: Stated Purpose of Entry from Zimbabwe to South Africa, 2002-8

Year

Holiday

Business

Work

Study

Other*

Total

2002

566,838

28,910

3,557

6,644

6,594

612,543

2003

526,479

26,620

4,749

7,227

3,551

568,626

2004

507,016

31,995

6,980

8,920

3,222

558,093

2005

679,562

25,286

7,079

9,909

4,183

727,726

2006

937,766

24,853

9,043

12,646

5,306

989,614

2007

916,093

28,876

13,074

13,389

5,669

977,101

2008

1,178,733

27,345

21,050

13,387

7,528

1,248,043

* Includes in transit and border passes

Source: Statistics South Africa

In the United Kingdom, a growing proportion of entrants were returnees coming back after a visit home (rising from around 20 percent of entrants in 2002 to over 50 percent in 2007) (Table 1.5). In all other categories – ordinary visitors, business visitors, students, work permit holders, dependants of permit holders, reunified spouses or fiancés and refugees – the numbers have consistently declined since 2000. This seems counterintuitive since the pressures for migration from Zimbabwe to the UK have only increased. Rather, it reflects tighter British border and visa controls by a government trying to keep Zimbabweans out, and able, much more effectively than South Africa, to actually do so. The tightening of restrictions on migration to the UK has, of course, had the perverse effect of increasing the migration pressure on neighbouring South Africa and Botswana.

Table 1.5: Zimbabwean Entrants to United Kingdom, 2002-7

 

Returnees

Visitors

Business

Students

Work Permits

Dependents/Family

Refugees

Other

Total

2002

15,500

27,500

2,790

1,780

730

845

1,710

9,225

56,600

2003

19,100

14,900

1,850

790

565

1,550

70

4,890

43,665

2004

24,300

16,000

1,730

830

525

1,340

160

6,600

51,320

2005

21,000

14,500

1,710

795

470

1,270

135

5,455

45,335

2006

20,700

12,700

1,620

480

350

1,085

60

5,025

41,910

2007

20,800

11,600

1,500

375

290

765

35

3,915

39,250

Source: UK Control of Immigration Statistics, 2002-7

Traditionally, in Southern Africa, outbound migration streams were dominated by young, single, unskilled males. The contemporary migration flow from Zimbabwe is extremely “mixed” compared with pre-1990 out-migration and with that from other countries in the Southern African region. There are almost as many women migrants as men; there are migrants of all ages from young children to the old and infirm; those fleeing hunger and poverty join those fleeing persecution and harassment; they are from all rungs of the occupational and socioeconomic ladder; they are highly-read and illiterate, professionals and paupers, doctors and ditch-diggers.

The most recent national profile of the Zimbabwean migrant worker population was obtained in a representative household survey undertaken by SAMP in 2005. The survey confirmed the increase in migration from Zimbabwe after 2000 (Table 1.6). Nearly three-quarters of the sample (72 percent) had worked outside the country for 5 years or less and only 10 percent had been working as migrants for over 10 years. There was no major difference between men and women, suggesting that for the vast majority of both sexes out-migration is a recent experience.

Table 1.6: Length of Migratory Experience

Years

Male (%)

Female (%)

Total (%)

1 – 5

71.1

72.5

71.6

6 – 10

20.9

20.5

20.8

11 – 15

4.6

4.3

4.5

26 – 20

1.4

1.9

1.6

19 – 25

1.2

0.3

0.8

26 – 30

0.2

0.0

0.1

>30

0.4

0.0

0.2

Don’t know

0.2

0.5

0.4

Total

100.0

100.0

100.0

N = 805

Source: SAMP

The 2001 South African Census found that 57 percent of Zimbabweans in South Africa were male and 43 percent female. In 2005, SAMP found a very similar ratio still pertained (56 percent and 44 percent). Many more migrants were married than unmarried (58 percent versus 31 percent) with another 10 percent widowed, separated or divorced (Table 1.7). Around a third of migrants were sons and daughters in the household, 28 percent were heads of households and another 13 percent were spouses or partners of household heads. All of this suggests a broadening and deepening of participation in migration from Zimbabwe.

Table 1.7: Demographic Profile of Migrants

 

.

No

%

Relationship

Head

226

28.3

Spouse/Partner

101

12.6

Son/Daughter

286

35.8

Father/Mother

7

0.9

Brother/Sister

115

14.4

Grandchild

2

0.3

Son/Daughter-in-law

8

1.0

Nephew/Niece

18

2.3

Other relative

30

3.8

Non-relative

7

0.9

 

Total

800

100.0

Age

15 to 24

124

15.4

25 to 39

454

56.4

40 to 59

185

23.0

60 and over

7

0.9

Don’t know

35

4.3

 

Total

805

100.0

Marital Status

Unmarried

247

30.7

Married

469

58.3

Cohabiting

7

0.9

Divorced/Separated Abandoned

45

5.6

Widowed

37

4.6

 

Total

805

100.0

Education

None

6

0.8

Primary/Secondary

383

47.9

Diploma

225

28.1

Degree/Postgraduate

182

22.8

Don’t know

4

0.5

 

Total

800

100.0

Source: SAMP Migration Database

The majority of migrants were relatively young (72 percent are under the age of 40) and well-educated. Less than 1 percent had no schooling and over 50 percent had a post-secondary diploma, undergraduate degree or post-graduate degree. Migrants were employed in a wide variety of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled jobs outside Zimbabwe. In other words, this is a generalized out-movement of people, not confined to one or two professions or sectors. Twenty percent of migrants were in the informal sector as traders, vendors, hawkers or producers. Also significant were skilled professionals (15 percent), health workers (12 percent), services (9 percent), teachers (7 percent), manual workers (6 percent) and office workers (5 percent) (Table 1.8).

Table 1.8: Occupational Profile of Zimbabweans

Occupation

No.

No. of Migrants

% of Migrants

Migrants as % of Total

Scholar/Student

865

10

1.3

1.1

Trader/Informal sector

302

154

20.3

51.0

Professional worker

247

120

15.8

48.6

Teacher

199

56

7.4

28.1

Service worker

153

72

9.5

47.1

Health worker

133

92

12.1

69.2

Office worker

116

40

5.3

34.5

Business (self-employed)

112

33

4.4

29.5

Manual

100

50

6.6

50.0

Domestic worker

74

18

2.4

24.3

Managerial office worker

67

29

3.8

43.3

Mineworker

58

24

3.2

41.4

Farmer

44

5

0.7

11.4

Police/Military/Security

35

5

0.7

14.3

Agricultural worker

28

11

1.5

39.3

Employer/Manager

16

10

1.3

62.5

Foreman

15

6

0.8

40.0

Other

61

23

2.9

37.7

Total

2,625

758

100.0

37.3

Source: SAMP Migration Database

A comparison of total with out-of-country employment by sector shows that 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s health workers were migrants. Over 40 percent of professional workers, service workers, managerial office workers and mineworkers were also migrants. Between 30 and 40 percent of office workers and agricultural workers were outside the country. For teachers, the proportion was 28 percent and for domestic workers 25 percent. Only in the security and military sector and in farming were there significantly more people employed inside the country than out of it.

Table 1.9: Frequency of Return

 

 

No.

%

Return Frequency

Twice or more per month

138

16.5

Once a month

121

14.5

> Twice in 3 months

65

7.8

Once in three months

90

10.8

Once every 6 months

57

6.8

Once a year

159

19.0

At end of the contract

33

3.9

Other

173

20.7

 

Total

836

100.0

Time Away

< One month

152

18.3

1-6 months

154

18.6

6-12 months

245

29.6

One year at a time

59

7.1

> One year

110

13.3

Other

109

13.1

 

Total

829

100.0

Source: SAMP Migration Database

The survey also confirmed that most migrants maintain close connections with Zimbabwe. Nearly half visit their families at least once every three months. However, almost 20 percent of the migrants (mostly living overseas) are only able to return home once a year (Table 1.9). Absences from home are highly variable: 18 percent are away for less than a month at a time, 19 percent for between one and six months and 30 percent for between six months and a year. Twenty percent are away for a year or longer. As several of the essays in this collection show, these patterns facilitate the flow of remittances as well as influence the channels preferred by migrants for sending money home.

MIGRATION AND ZIMBABWEAN DE-DEVELOPMENT

The developmental role of migrant remittances is central to the current international focus on the relationship between migration, poverty and development.16 International bodies such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the UN, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) remain incorrigibly optimistic about the development potential of migrant remittances.17 Researchers have generally been more sceptical, highlighting the degree to which remittances are used for basic needs rather than for savings and investment in productive activity.18 Various reasons have been advanced for why remittance flows often fail to improve the development prospects of a country of origin: “First, there is the difficulty in many countries of converting remittances into sustainable productive capacity; second, remittance income is rarely used for productive purposes but for direct consumption. Very little is directed to income-earning, job-creating investment. Finally, remittances increase inequality, encourage import consumption and create dependency.”19 In short, it is “a distant hope that remittances could help families, communities and countries remain permanently out of poverty.”20 If this is true of developing countries in general, it is a statement of the obvious in fragile and failing states. There remittances can play a crucial role in taking the edge off people’s suffering and in providing them a basic livelihood in the midst of economic and social chaos, but little else.21

If remittances were once a potential lever for sustainable livelihoods in Zimbabwe, that threshold has long ago been crossed. The vast majority of Zimbabwean households with a migrant member in the region or abroad regularly receive remittances.22 Indeed, remittances from the Zimbabwean diaspora have reached such volumes that they kept the economy grinding along for a number of years. Cognizant of this fact, the Mugabe government tried various ruses to ensure that the state got its hands on a greater proportion of the remittance inflow.23 However, as in many parts of the developing world, remitters tend to avoid formal channels and use informal means in the main. Without the constant infusion of remittances from abroad, the economic and social collapse of Zimbabwe would have been much faster and even more catastrophic.

Levels of poverty and chronic shortages of the basic necessities of life are such that remittance getting is a survival, not a development, strategy in contemporary Zimbabwe.24 The proportion of migrant remittances spent on food is amongst the highest in the world. The Zimbabwean population, as has often been mentioned, is unable to feed itself, necessitating large-scale food imports.25 Very few households can afford to invest funds in activities that would, for example, enable them to increase their own food production. What is sometimes forgotten is that without remittances of food and cash to purchase food, the hunger and malnutrition situation in Zimbabwe would be even more dire than it has become.

Globally, skilled emigration from almost all developing countries increased substantially in the 1990s. For many, the share of skilled nationals residing in developed countries became “staggeringly high.”26 Much skilled migration is South-North in character; an estimated 90 percent of skilled migrants from developing countries live in the member states of the OECD.27 The estimated percentage of emigrants with tertiary education is largest for Africa at 75 percent, followed by Latin America at 48 percent, and Asia and the Pacific at 20 percent.28 Others estimate that one in ten tertiary-educated adults born in the developing world resided in America, Australia or Western Europe in 2001; this figure rises to between 30 and 50 percent for individuals trained in science and technology.29

Critics argue that the “brain drain” has a major negative impact on the development prospects of a country: “While high skilled migration in sectors such as IT seems to have played an integral role in helping spur economic development in a few source countries, high-skilled migration in other sectors – health and medicine, in particular – [has] done considerable damage to source countries.”30 Most effects discussed in the general literature are negative. They include output and productivity declines; larger skill premiums that increase inequality; fiscal losses through lost tax revenue; diminished scale economies; loss of role models and spillover knowledge from most-skilled to lesser-skilled individuals; loss of entrepreneurs; and changed comparative advantage. Human capital is lost with implications for gross domestic product (GDP), entrepreneurialism, training the next generation, flows of foreign direct investment and a country’s capacity to build critical domestic institutions.31

The established wisdom on the “brain drain” has been challenged by adherents of the self-styled “new economics of the brain drain” approach.32 This postulates that “brain drain” is a temporary stage and that, indeed, it may even be the “harbinger of powerful gains.”33 One argument is that the prospect of migration produces over-education, a “brain strain” and “educated unemployment.” Another is that the feedback effects of migration (including remittances, investment and knowledge transfer) as well as return migration should be considered. The “new economics” approach uses selective case studies to make its point, proving only that generalizations across the South are inadvisable. Tanner, however, asserts that benefits accrue more to large, relatively better-off developing countries that have deliberate labour-export policies, and to elites in these countries:

The measures presented as mitigating or even eliminating the effects of brain drain do not achieve an ethically sustainable objective – to directly or indirectly relieve general poverty and inefficient use of human resources, and to promote more equitable long-term development throughout the country of origin’s society as a whole.34

The Southern African region has been in the grip of a serious “brain drain” for two decades.35 Not only have skills losses been very serious but there is little prospect of the drain being reduced as long as employment opportunities persist in destination countries. With the notable exception of Botswana, and more recently South Africa, none have pro-active immigration policies to counteract the ensuing skills crisis. Of all the countries in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe has been worst-affected by the “brain drain.”36 In the 1980s, the black Zimbabwean population benefitted from a post-independence educational policy that emphasized universal access and advanced skills acquisition. As the 1990s progressed, and global competition for developing country skills intensified, advanced qualifications became a passport out of the country. There was growing “educated unemployment” but many of those who left had jobs in Zimbabwe. The extent of the “brain drain” from the private and public sector has been of such magnitude and impact that it has had severely negative, even ruinous, impacts.37 The “emigration potential” of those who remain is extremely high and it is certain that without significant return migration there is little hope of sustained economic recovery in Zimbabwe.38 The phrase “feminization of migration” has been coined to describe increases in the volume of international female migration and its growing importance relative to male migration.39 While there has certainly been a global increase in female migration in recent decades, the UN has pointed out that in proportional terms, the global female stock of migrants was already 47 percent in 1960 and increased to 49 percent by 2000.40 In recent writing “feminization” has therefore come to refer more to changing forms of female migration, including a greater degree of independent migration and migration for employment purposes.41 The evidence suggests that in Africa as a whole female migration has increased in numbers and relative importance in recent decades (from 41 percent in 1960 to 47 percent in 2000). In Southern Africa, however, male migration still predominates.42 A 2005 SAMP survey of migrant-sending households in five SADC countries, found that 84.5 percent of migrants were male and only 15.5 percent were female. Migration from Zimbabwe was highly “feminized” in comparison with the other three countries (with 44 percent of migrants being female) (Table 1.10).

Table 1.10: Sex of International Migrants, 2005

Country

Male (%)

Female (%)

Lesotho

83.6

16.4

Mozambique

93.6

6.2

Swaziland

92.4

7.6

Zimbabwe

56.4

43.6

Total

84.5

15.5

Source: SAMP Migration Database

Diminishing alternatives have forced Zimbabwean women from across the full range of age, skills and education levels to engage in various forms of cross-border economic activity, from informal trade to long-term formal employment. Without reliable, regular data on levels of female migration at earlier dates, it is difficult to accurately assess the extent to which female migration has increased in either absolute or relative terms. An earlier SAMP survey in 1997 found that the ratio of male to female migration from Zimbabwe was very similar to that in 2005.43 There is very little gender difference in the lengths of time that people have been migrating. In other words, in Zimbabwe (unlike other countries) the majority of male and female migrants are recent migrants. This suggests that feminization of migration relates more to growing numbers and new roles rather than any sudden post-2000 surge in the importance of female versus male migration.

Another important aspect of the global migration and development debate concerns the role of diasporas in the development of countries of origin.44 To some extent, the focus on diasporas is a conscious antidote to the critics of “the brain drain” for, if nothing else, the idea that migrants do not leave for good clearly softens the claims of those who feel that skills loss represents an unmitigated disaster. In the global discourse on migration and development, diasporas are rapidly replacing remittances as the “new development mantra.” One classification helpfully identifies three forms of diaspora engagement: first, development in the diaspora (the economic and social advancement of immigrants in the host country); secondly, development through the diaspora (the use by diasporic communities of their global connections to facilitate economic and social development); and thirdly, development by the diaspora (how diasporic flows and connections to home countries facilitate development in those localities).45 Diaspora actors include individuals, hometown associations, ethnic associations, alumni associations, religious associations, professional associations, development NGOs, investment/business groups, political groups, national development groups, welfare/refugee groups and virtual organizations.

There has been a growing recognition in destination countries that diaspora individuals, groups and organizations are engaged independently in activities that have developmental aims and outcomes and that these should be encouraged and supported. Diasporas are themselves increasingly well-organised and lobbying for assistance in these activities. By tapping the diaspora, developing countries aim to encourage remittance flows, investment and technical and scientific knowledge transfer. The oft-cited cases of India and China are particularly important in demonstrating how diasporas can contribute to investment and economic growth in countries of origin.46 The evidence for Africa is less compelling although the African Union has been particularly active in encouraging African states to engage with their emigrant diasporas.47 In some cases, states have met a very positive response from abroad.48 Diaspora organizations and networks with an express development brief have begun to spring up in destination countries and are actively seeking ways in which to bring their knowledge, capital and connections to bear on the challenges that face many African countries.

The Zimbabwean diaspora is widely-dispersed, very young and extremely insecure.49 This is not a group who have emigrated permanently to another country over an extended period of time, put down roots and achieved the kind of social and economic success that enables systematic engagement of the kind usually associated with diasporas in development. Zimbabwean diaspora organizations are increasingly common in countries such as South Africa and the United Kingdom. However, these tend to be of two kinds: politically-focused organizations dedicated to raising consciousness about Zimbabwe or protesting treatment in their countries of destination, and humanitarian groupings and networks dedicated to helping new migrants survive, settle and integrate.50 While the Zimbabwean diaspora remains intensely interested in their home country and follows events there with great assiduity, many in the diaspora are profoundly hostile to the political regime in power. Supporting struggling families at home is one thing. Engagement in any activity that might be deemed supportive of – or co-optable by – Mugabe is not.

Zimbabwean migrants within Southern Africa, but also those living outside the region, return home relatively frequently. When away they also maintain very close contact with relatives and kin still in the country. The intensity of contact and exchange is such that the terms “transnational migration” and “transnationalism” have been increasingly applied to Zimbabwean migration.51 Transnational migration has been defined as “a pattern of migration in which persons, although they move across international borders, settle and establish ongoing social relations in a new state, maintain ongoing social connections with the polity from which they originated.”52 Transnational migrants literally live out their lives across international borders through “the high intensity of exchanges, the new modes of transacting, and the multiplication of activities that require cross-border travel and contacts on a sustainable basis.”53 The concept of transnationalism seeks to capture the reality of “simultaneous embeddedness in more than one society.”54 However, the term “transnationalism” and the reality it seeks to capture are extremely subversive of conventional policy notions and models of migration.55 At best, policymakers have admitted the term “circulation” to the debate.56 But while circulation is a feature of transnational migration, transnationalism is not simply about continuous or regular physical movement between two places.

Transnationalism first emerged as a way of describing and understanding migrant cultural identities and practices.57 Assimilation of immigrants into some fictive “national culture” is a primary goal of many social and cultural integration and social cohesion programmes in the West. However, for transnational migrants “success does not depend so much on abandoning their culture and language to embrace another society as on preserving their original cultural endowment, while adapting instrumentally to a second.”58 Underlying the cultural emphasis of transnationalism is an argument that hybrid identities and cultures cannot be explained without examining forms of migration and mobility that produce them.59

A collection of essays published in 2002 by SAMP assessed the utility of the concept of transnationalism to contemporary African immigration to South Africa.60 The editors concluded that much temporary migration to South Africa was of a transnational character and involved a “dense web” of personal and economic links with the country of origin. None of the essays in that particular collection addressed the situation of Zimbabwean migrants but the thesis is now gaining increasing currency. There is certainly no question that migrants who have left Zimbabwe maintain the kinds of “high intensity exchanges” that characterize transnationalism. In fact, the crisis-driven nature of migration, and the dire situation of many people in the country, probably intensifies connectivity with home. But to what extent are Zimbabweans who have migrated embedded in the society and culture of their destination countries? The recency of much migration may suggest that it is really too soon to tell. But part of the equation is the reception they receive on arrival. Are destination countries and communities inclusive or exclusionary? The evidence suggests that Zimbabwean migrants as a whole are denigrated, devalued and marginalized (especially in South Africa and the United Kingdom).61 In the context of such social, economic and cultural exclusion, it is hard to see how Zimbabwean transnational migrant behaviour will translate into “simultaneous embeddedness” in two societies.

The UN has taken a strong stance on migrant rights through the controversial International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and through efforts to have the Convention ratified in more states. None of the states to which Zimbabweans prefer to migrate has ratified the Convention. Their rights are seriously circumscribed in many states, including South Africa and the United Kingdom. The global media has ensured that no one can be unaware of the trials and tribulations of ordinary Zimbabweans under the Mugabe regime. Yet this has not translated into a great deal of sympathy for those Zimbabweans who have left the country. The world, it seems, would prefer that Zimbabweans stay home and suffer.

Perhaps the most outrageous example of hostility occurred in South Africa in May 2008, when scores of Zimbabweans, along with migrants from other African countries, were hounded out of their homes and communities by rampaging mobs.62 This was not an aberration, as hostility towards Zimbabwean migrants has been pervasive in all sections of society in countries such as South Africa and Botswana for many years.63 In South Africa, Zimbabweans elicit the most consistently negative responses of migrants from any country in Africa (with the exception of Nigeria). South Africa’s visa regime with Zimbabwe has been so punitive financially that it almost inevitably pushed people into clandestine migration channels. Zimbabweans worldwide have found it extremely difficult to access refugee protection systems. In many countries where they either live beyond the margins of legality or even within them, labour market discrimination finds them struggling to make ends meet.64 When migrants are shut out of the labour market in destination countries (or forced to be downwardly mobile into jobs that hardly make best use of their skills and experience) then the ability of households in Zimbabwe to survive is reduced and the migration of more family members becomes an almost inevitable consequence, especially if they are reduced to destitution.

MIGRATION THEMES

The first two chapters in this volume provide important context for the contributions that follow. The initial chapter by historian Alois Mlambo surveys the history of migration to and from Zimbabwe before 1990. The current debate about migration and development is notable for its superficial approach to the history of this relationship and blindness to longstanding arguments about the meaning of development.65 Policy-related discussions about contemporary migration in Southern Africa are similarly blinkered regarding the region’s long history of cross-border migration.66 This is surprising since the historiography of migration in Southern Africa constitutes a particularly voluminous and rich body of scholarship. Indeed, it would be fair to say that the history of cross-border migration in Southern Africa was one of the major pre-occupations of progressive researchers in the 1970s and 1980s.67 The disconnect between this body of work and contemporary writing on migration is striking. This is not simply a matter of acknowledging that migration has a history but also of understanding the relevance of this history in the present. The relationship between migration and development, for example, is not a new debate in Southern Africa. In one way or another, it has been a constant preoccupation of colonial and postcolonial states.

Mlambo shows that, for most of its history, Zimbabwe was primarily a destination for migrants. Prior to the nineteenth century, the Zimbabwe Plateau was peopled by migrants from the north. In the early eighteenth century, there was a wave of migrants from the south fleeing the political and economic upheavals of Zulu expansionism. In the twentieth century, following colonial conquest and extensive land expropriation, white settlers entered the country in considerable numbers. Their numbers peaked at 270,000 in 1970 but would have been even larger, says Mlambo, but for a restrictive immigration selection policy that welcomed whites from the UK and discouraged those from elsewhere.

The contemporary migration and development debate has recently discovered circular migration as if it were a new phenomenon. However, it has been the dominant form of migration in Southern Africa for many decades. Unable to secure enough labour for their farms, plantations and mines, white settlers imported unskilled black migrants from neighbouring Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. In a region well-known for the temporary nature of unskilled migration, these migrants often stayed in Zimbabwe and eventually cut their links with home. Zimbabwe experienced other types of in-migration as well. During Southern Africa’s Thirty Year War of liberation from colonial white rule, for example, Zimbabwe became a destination for white settlers from other newly-independent African countries. Later it was a haven for political refugees from South Africa and Mozambique.

Set against this long history of in-migration, Zimbabwe’s recent and rapid transformation into a country of out-migration is particularly stark and dramatic. However, as Mlambo shows, people have always found reasons to leave Zimbabwe. During the period of colonial and settler rule, almost as many settlers left as came. Between 1921 and 1964, for example, the country received a total of 236,330 white immigrants but lost 159,215 (around two-thirds) through emigration. Between 1960 and 1979, more whites left than arrived (202,000 versus 180,000). At independence, whites who feared the loss of racial power and privilege relocated to apartheid South Africa or left the region altogether. Their numbers dropped by two-thirds in the first decade of independence and were down to less than 50,000 when the farm seizures began at the turn of the century.

Some black Zimbabweans worked on settler farms and mines (often migrating within the country to do so) but throughout the twentieth century many crossed into South Africa to work, where, despite the humiliations of apartheid, wages were generally higher. As Mlambo points out, there are parts of southern Zimbabwe where migration to South Africa by young men was something of a “rite of passage.” In the 1970s, thousands of Zimbabwean workers were recruited to fill the mine labour shortages in South Africa caused by the recall in 1974 of 120,000 Malawian migrant workers. Political reasons for leaving Zimbabwe also pre-date the 1990s. In the 1970s, for example, many black Zimbabweans opposed to the Smith regime went into exile but returned again after independence. While Zimbabwe has now experienced almost two decades of unrelenting emigration, history suggests that the country’s more natural state is as a country of both origin and destination.

Apart from historical amnesia, another major omission in the migration and development debate is any systematic consideration of internal migration and its relationship with international migration. Indeed, some commentators have pointed out how internal and international migration are often viewed as separate spheres or “disconnected circuits.”68 Rather, their causes and origins, the processes involved and their impact and outcomes are so similar that they ought to be considered together. In a volume devoted almost exclusively to international migration from Zimbabwe, it is therefore important to understand what was happening to internal migration during this period and to identify any parallels and connections with out-migration from the country. In her chapter, Deborah Potts provides an overview and analysis of internal migration trends from 1990 to the present.

Potts points out that in relation to the usual economic forces driving internal migration in Africa, Zimbabwe has experienced only two decades of “normality” – the 1980s and 1990s. During the period of white settler control, many Zimbabweans were forcibly displaced from their lands to make way for white settlement. Then they were “subject to a vast array of institutionalized controls and constraints on their freedom of movement and settlement in urban areas.” One effect of such constrained urbanization was to reduce the size of the indigenous urban population below the levels that would have occurred in the absence of such restrictions. In the 1970s, as the independence war escalated, these restrictions broke down and migration to urban areas increased significantly. Potts sums up the pre-independence experience as follows: “The experience of coerced migration away from areas of economic opportunity (as well as ancestral rights) was sadly familiar to many African households, as was the prevention of migration into areas of economic and social opportunity.”

The 1980s are earmarked by Potts as a decade of normality in the sense that postcolonial internal migration in Zimbabwe resembled that of most other African states after independence. Freed of controls on their mobility, rural dwellers headed for new economic opportunity in the towns. Urbanization outpaced the delivery of employment opportunities and an informal sector took root. Most migrants felt insecure about a long-term future in the urban areas and retained close connections with their rural homes. Despite the intense economic competition and lack of a social safety net, Potts still designates this as a “halcyon period” in the eyes of many black Zimbabweans. While the departure of disaffected whites accelerated, that of blacks came to a virtual halt. In 1981, Mugabe recalled all Zimbabwean mineworkers in South Africa and banned any further recruiting. South Africa in the 1980s was also in the violent death throes of apartheid and was not an appealing prospect for migrants. In the first post-independence decade, the new opportunities afforded by unrestrained internal migration “substituted” for international migration, thus reducing its importance to ordinary households.

In the 1990s, as Potts’ careful analysis of the available data confirms, there was a dramatic deceleration in urban growth rates in Zimbabwe, especially in the larger towns and cities. Two smaller towns that did continue to experience rapid growth were Mutare and Beit Bridge. Both are border towns whose growth was a function of increasing cross-border movement and informal trade with Mozambique and South Africa respectively. By 2002, virtually all of Zimbabwe’s provinces were experiencing net out-migration. None had net in-migration from internal sources, and the population of every province was growing at a rate less than the natural increase due to emigration. Potts, like other commentators, attributes decelerating urbanization and growing emigration to the devastating economic impact of World Bank-led Structural Adjustment.

The data is not yet available to show what has happened to internal migration at the national scale since 2002. However, Potts argues that two major policy interventions (expropriation of commercial farms and urban “cleansing”) have had a dramatic impact on livelihoods and precipitated household responses that involve internal and international migration, or some combination thereof. The expropriation of white-owned farms forced a significant net out-migration of farmworkers, many of whom were the descendents of migrants from other countries. After 2005, the government’s Operation Murambatsvina targetted informal housing and employment in the towns, again destroying the livelihoods of thousands. This led to massive internal movement within the cities and “significant short-term out-migration from the towns by people who could find no other urban livelihood or accommodation.” Both of these interventions swelled the numbers of households without a livelihood and added to the pool of desperate people forced to try their luck outside the country’s borders.

Those sceptical of the developmental value of migration often point to the crippling impact of skills migration from developing to developed countries. The next two chapters in the volume, by Daniel Tevera and Jonathan Crush and by Abel Chikanda, focus on different aspects of the “brain drain” from Zimbabwe which began in the 1990s and has gathered pace ever since. Tevera and Crush lay out two contrasting positions on brain drain causality. One, what we might call the “discourse of poaching,” argues that the main imperative for the brain drain comes from the demand of developed countries for highly specialised professionals. A contrary line of thinking – the “discourse of flight” – blames the developing world for its own misfortune. In other words, there would be no brain drain if conditions at home were more conducive for skilled people to stay. Emigration is people voting with their feet, “a flight from spectacular misgovernment, from appalling working conditions and pay levels so low that they are below subsistence.”69 While Zimbabwe would appear to be an ideal exemplar of the “discourse of flight,” skilled Zimbabweans would never have left in such numbers if they had not also been considered valuable assets in the developed world’s competitive global quest for skills.

A common approach to the brain drain is the compilation of large macro-scale data sets of migrant flows from which to make inferences about causality and impacts. This approach is favoured by neoliberal researchers anxious to conclude that the “brain drain” is not, in fact, as damaging as the proponents of the “discourse of poaching” maintain.70 These conclusions have predictably enjoyed rapid take-up amongst developed country governments. To understand the actual migration behaviour of skilled people and the impact of migration on those who remain, such analyses obviously need to be supplemented with interview-based studies of the attitudes, perceptions and actions of actual and potential migrants. The problem here is that many studies rely on such small samples that it is hard to know how representative the opinions gleaned actually are. SAMP’s alternative approach has been to try and understand decisions about migration through the decision-makers themselves but to do so in a way that is statistically representative and policy-relevant.

Tevera and Crush’s chapter on “Discontent and Departure” analyses the results of two surveys undertaken by SAMP in Zimbabwe – one of skilled and professional Zimbabweans working in the country and the other of final-year students in universities and technical colleges. The latter study was undertaken on a regional scale at the prompting of the then Deputy Minister of Home Affairs in South Africa, Charles Nquala, who maintained that departing professionals were essentially “traitors” uncommitted to the development of the region and that the next generation of skilled people would be much more “loyal.” Unfortunately, the research showed that the region’s potential skills base, unencumbered by job seniority and family obligations, would be even more footloose than their predecessors. The surveys discussed by Tevera and Crush are not strictly comparable since the two sample populations differ and were taken some years apart. For example, levels of discontent were notably higher amongst the student body but we cannot conclude that the students were necessarily more dissatisfied than working professionals at the time. In all likelihood, the dissatisfaction levels of those working in Zimbabwe increased considerably in the years following the survey. If that is indeed the case, then the findings (from related though not identical samples) become instead a commentary on how much worse conditions became between 2001 and 2005.

The two surveys revealed extreme dissatisfaction amongst the skilled residents (actual and in training) with a wide variety of economic and social conditions in the country. On virtually every indicator, a majority said that they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. Moreover, most also felt that the situation would get worse or much worse in the ensuing five years. Comparing conditions in Zimbabwe with those in their most likely destination of emigration, their home country scored worse on every social and economic measure. These findings are extremely sobering for they are significantly more negative than those for the other countries surveyed in SADC, including South Africa (which also has a major brain drain to contend with). Given the widespread dissatisfaction with current conditions and the deep pessimism about future general and personal prospects, it is unsurprising that the “poachers” of Zimbabwean skills have found such rich pickings. Tevera and Crush also examine the relationship between negative attitudes and emigration intentions. Some 57 percent of the skilled professionals and 71 percent of the students had given emigration a great deal of consideration. Sixty seven percent of the professionals said it was likely or very likely they would emigrate within five years. Seventy percent of the students said they would leave within two.

The magnitude and impact of the medical brain drain from Zimbabwe has garnered much attention in the literature. The debate is an uncomfortable one. Hardly anyone blames Zimbabwe’s doctors and nurses for wanting to leave completely intolerable working conditions in the public health sector. Most would do the same in their position. Yet, at the same time, the healthcare situation for the mass of the population becomes more dire with each one who leaves their post. As Chikanda points out, the brain drain of nurses from Zimbabwe’s public health system began in the late 1990s after other means of redress for their grievances had been tried, and failed. They found a ready market for their skills overseas, especially in the UK, and began to leave in increasing numbers. By 2003, Zimbabwe had become the fourth largest “supplier” of nurses to the UK (after the Philippines, India and South Africa). The number of Zimbabwean health professionals registered in the UK increased from 76 in 1995 to 2,825 in 2003. Of these, over 80 percent were nurses. Nurses came formally through private recruiters and under their own steam.

In 1997, only 56 percent of nursing staff requirements in the Zimbabwean public health system were filled. At that time, the primary reason was movement out of the public into the private system (a career move often accompanied by internal migration). The number of nurses employed in the public sector fell by 19 percent between 1995 and 1999, while the public sector share of nurses fell from 58 to 45 percent in even less time (1996-99). Internal migration (from public to private, and from rural hospitals to towns, where most private practices are located) was often a prelude to international migration. Chikanda argues that many nurses engaged in “step-wise migration,” moving internally into the private sector in order to accumulate the funds (and contacts) to make the move overseas. The migration attitudes of in-country nursing professionals revealed in the survey showed enormous dissatisfaction with working conditions. His survey of nurses found that as many as two-thirds were considering a move to the private sector and that 71 percent were considering leaving the country. The most likely destination was the UK (30 percent), while 24 percent preferred destinations within Africa (mostly South Africa followed by Botswana). The extent of dissatisfaction in the public health sector was massive, a finding replicated in SAMP surveys.

Brain drains are often said to cause general “skill shortages” and “crises.” One remedy, which has so far escaped most Southern African countries, is to make in-migration of skilled migrants a lot easier. In Zimbabwe, this has never really been an option. Working conditions were so poor and continued to deteriorate. Even the most active global recruiting campaign would have had little success. In the medical sector there is no such thing as a general impact of migration. The results are felt immediately by patients and by those workers who have not yet left. When nurses leave the public health system for the private sector or for other countries, it is not only the patients who suffer but the nurses who remain. Chikanda shows how this has produced a vicious circle in Zimbabwe. Nurses leave the country. Those who remain work longer hours, carry heavier patient loads and, particularly in rural areas, are forced into multiple roles for which they have no formal training. Conditions become so taxing and morale so low that they too leave. None of the government’s attempts to stop the exodus have had much effect.

Despite the increasingly global spread of the Zimbabwean diaspora, migrants congregate in certain countries and in certain places within those countries. The next three chapters in this volume, by Alice Bloch, JoAnn McGregor and Dominic Pasura, examine different aspects of the Zimbabwean diaspora’s recent experience in the United Kingdom. Zimbabwean migrants there tend to be middle-class, educated professionals. The historical linkages between Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom have made this an obvious channel for skilled migrants leaving the country. The result, as Bloch points out, is that the Zimbabwean population of the UK is considerably less diverse socially and economically than that in South Africa. Two-thirds of Bloch’s respondents left Zimbabwe after 2000. Over 80 percent had jobs but almost half said they had skills and experience which were not being used in their jobs in the UK. Many were forced into the lower levels of the UK labour market. The rise in the numbers of Zimbabweans doing care work indicates that skilled migrants are being “trapped” in a lower-skilled sector “notable for its exploitative labour market practices.”

As Bloch shows, Zimbabweans in the UK are “active economic, social and political transnational actors.” Nearly everyone has close family members in Zimbabwe with whom they maintain frequent contact by telephone, email and text messaging. Eighty percent remit money to Zimbabwe and 19 percent elsewhere, indicating an active global diaspora network. Forty percent remit at least once a month with the amount remitted strongly correlated with income. Family livelihood needs are the main reason for remitting, though 12 percent remitted for the main purpose of buying land or property or investing in business. Zimbabweans in the UK have strong social ties, and migrant networks provide advice about moving, accommodation and help in obtaining visas.

Interest in return migration is strong, with 72 percent definitely wanting to return home. Only six percent definitely did not want to return to Zimbabwe in the future. Having a spouse or partner or children in Zimbabwe was a key factor influencing the desire to return. The longer people had been in the UK, and the more secure their immigration status, the lower the desire to return to Zimbabwe. The minority who definitely did not want to return to Zimbabwe emphasized the political and economic situation and the uncertain future. Bloch also explores whether there is any interest in participating in development activities in Zimbabwe. Only six percent said they were definitely not interested.

As Bloch points out, the UK “care industry” has become the single major employer of Zimbabwean migrants during the last decade. In her survey, nearly 20 percent of migrants were working as carers or care assistants. Drawing on her interviews with those working in the sector, McGregor examines the role and experience of an exploited and extremely dissatisfied group of Zimbabwean migrants. In Zimbabwe, migrants in the sector are disparagingly referred to as “bum technicians” or as “working for the BBC” (British Bottom Cleaners). Most migrants have little experience in care when they arrive in the UK and are forced into the sector only because the jobs are available and they have few alternatives: “Most Zimbabweans working as carers are stressed and frustrated because they have experienced deskilling and a loss of status, and feel trapped in care work, with little prospect of using their qualifications in the UK.”

The “care gap” between demand and supply in Britain has been created by an aging population, geographical mobility (which has split up families) and the fact that British women have been less able or willing to perform “traditional” caring roles. The privatisation and outcontracting of local authority residential and home care services has worsened conditions of employment in parts of the labour market, making care jobs increasingly unattractive to native workers. As McGregor notes: “These changes have been important in spreading temporary work and creating unstable and insecure employment conditions at the bottom end of the job market, contributing to the shortages of carers and the growing importance of migrants.” The care gap is increasingly filled by insecure (often irregular) international migrants, although “their service has often been “invisible,” and their contribution is little appreciated.”

Most Zimbabwean carers had little or no experience in care work prior to arriving in the UK, partly because the majority have skills or training or experience in other professions and partly because there is no care industry as such in Zimbabwe (where care is the responsibility of the family). Zimbabwean carers prefer working for clients who are more independent rather than in nursing and dementia homes. Many work for agencies supplying temporary staff to residential homes. Rates of pay “vary enormously” and carers are typically responsible for their own insurance and receive no benefits. McGregor’s respondents described “killing themselves with overwork,” pushing themselves to the limit to raise enough money to cover rent and other living expenses in the UK as well as meeting their obligations to support networks of dependants in the UK and in Zimbabwe. Most were unhappy with their social life in Britain, as anti-social hours allowed them little time with family and friends. At work, friction with the permanent staff is exacerbated by the fact that the temporary staff are African or other migrants, compared to a predominantly white permanent staff. Racist attitudes and verbal abuse from clients is also not uncommon. In addition to the racism from clients and permanent staff, the male carers complained of gender discrimination at work. At the same time, many men felt that their masculinity was challenged by jobs that were beneath them.

The different responses to care work by male and female migrants, in a sector in which neither would work voluntarily, shows that the Zimbabwean diaspora experience is profoundly gendered. This theme is taken up in the chapter by Dominic Pasura who shows how gender roles, norms and expectations in Zimbabwe have been challenged and reconfigured once migrants arrive in the UK. In the private spaces of the household, Pasura argues, gender roles and expectations brought from Zimbabwe have come under pressure, leading to intense domestic conflict and the break-up and dissolution of many marriages. The primary reason is that in the UK women have become the primary income earners in many households. Men resent the loss of “status” and their self-image as breadwinners almost as much as they dislike having to undertake household chores they would certainly never have considered doing back home. Most of Pasura’s male respondents referred to the shift in the balance of power in diaspora households when women do paid work: “Women’s access to an independent income, which in most cases is more than that of the husband, threatens men’s hegemonic masculinity which centres on being the main provider and decision-maker in the family. Most of the women claimed to have control over how they used their salaries, unlike in Zimbabwe.”

Quite apart from their new role as primary breadwinners and the financial independence this has brought, the diasporic context has led women to question basic assumptions about traditional gender roles and relations and to carve out new gendered identities. They are able to do this more successfully in Britain than in Zimbabwe, where extended families and kinship ties are central to the production and reproduction of gendered ideologies. Marriage in Zimbabwe is primarily a contract between two families. In the diaspora context, divorced from its social and cultural context, the contract often does not hold up. Other forms of relationship are taking its place. One, discussed by Pasura, is the “move-in household,” a form of common-law arrangement where there appears to be a greater degree of autonomy and equality between the two partners in the relationship. The dissolution of conventional marriage partnerships, the invention of new forms and the reconfigured gender relationships that accompany both, do not go uncontested, particularly in the public spaces of churches and public houses. Churches are attended more by women than men, yet the church leaders are generally male and propagate an ideology of male authority and female subservience more in keeping with the pre-migration situation in Zimbabwe. Pubs and gochi-gochi (a Shona word for barbecue, where friends get together, roast meat and drink beer) are also male domains where men reassert their crumbling masculinity. Men, not surprisingly, see the regendering of domestic roles as a temporary phase which will come to an end with their eventual return to Zimbabwe.

In contrast to the skilled and highly educated profile of the Zimbabwean migrant cohort in the United Kingdom, that in South Africa is far more diverse, drawn from virtually all social and economic strata of Zimbabwean society. Historically, both Johannesburg and the farms of northern South Africa are established destinations for Zimbabwean migrants. However, as migration from Zimbabwe has become more generalized, so the profile of migrants in both sites has diversified and become more complex. Based on recent sample survey research, Daniel Makina and Blair Rutherford construct a picture of the migrant population in both centres. There are certainly differences between the two groups of migrants in Johannesburg and on the farms but these are not as significant as one might think, a direct result of the desperate situation of many in Zimbabwe and their willingness to accept employment wherever they can find it.

Johannesburg is the main destination for migrants from Zimbabwe and also has the most diverse Zimbabwean population. Harrowing scenes of desperate Zimbabweans camped in and around the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg have come to symbolize the sorry plight of the most vulnerable migrants. But these groups, though increasingly common, are far from typical of the Zimbabwean population of Johannesburg. In 2007, Makina undertook a survey of over 4,000 Zimbabwean migrants in inner-city Johannesburg which showed how diverse the migrant population is, even within three high-density inner-city suburbs. The most striking finding was how quickly the influx of Zimbabweans into the city gathered pace after 2000. Only 8 percent of the migrants had arrived in the city before 1999. Between 2001 and 2006, the average annual growth rate for new arrivals was 34 percent.

Zimbabwean migrants in Johannesburg hail from all parts of Zimbabwe. However, the majority (70 percent) are from the southern provinces. Half of the migrants in Johannesburg came from Zimbabwe’s two largest cities. In other words, there is significant urban-urban migration from Zimbabwe to South Africa. While a third of the migrants who arrived in Johannesburg in the 1990s were female, the overall proportion of women climbed to 41 percent by 2007. Labour migration to South Africa was once the preserve of the single, unmarried young adults of the Zimbabwean household. This group constituted only 36 percent of Zimbabwean migrants in Johannesburg. As Makina concludes, over half of the migrants are married or cohabiting which “is testimony to the extent to which patterns of migration to South Africa have changed over the last decade. In many Zimbabwean households, anyone who can work is now a candidate for migration whatever their age or marital status.” Johannesburg migrants are relatively well-educated with over 50 percent holding diplomas and university degrees. They work in a wide variety of jobs and have very low rates of unemployment. Yet there is considerable deskilling with many people being over-qualified for the jobs they do. Nor are they well paid, with only 20 percent earning more than R4,000 a month. Despite this, 90 percent remit regularly to Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean farmworkers in northern South Africa earn a pittance by comparison with most migrants in Johannesburg. The legal minimum wage on the farms was R785 a month in 2005. The farmworkers earned an average R571 a month with 35 percent earning less than R400 a month. Nevertheless, these migrants too, were regular remitters of money and goods to Zimbabwe. In Johannesburg, Zimbabweans work in a multitude of occupations. In the farming zone, there is only one occupation, though a variety of farm tasks. Like migrants in Johannesburg, many working on the farms have prior employment experience in Zimbabwe. Two-thirds of the farmworkers had been employed at home, though only one in ten had prior farm experience. They were employed in a wide variety of occupations, including office work, retail, domestic work, and teaching.

Rutherford compares his results with those of an earlier SAMP survey in the same area to examine how the crisis in Zimbabwe has reshaped the character of migration to the farms of South Africa. One major change is where migrants come from in Zimbabwe. Most farmworkers (who have been crossing the border to work on the farms in small numbers since the mid-twentieth century) used to come from communities just across the border, primarily as seasonal workers. While the majority are still from the south of Zimbabwe, there are now farmworkers in the border zone from many other parts of the country, including Harare. Other changes identified by Rutherford include a reduction in the numbers of young migrants and a dramatic increase in those over the age of 30, a marked increase in married migrants of both sexes and a more educated workforce (a common complaint of Zimbabwean workers now is that they are too educated and skilled for farm work). In 1998, the majority of farmworkers were temporary (often seasonal) workers but this pattern seems to be giving way to a more extensive “permanent” workforce. With labour in abundance and no chance of employment at home, workers are tending to stay on the same farm and build patronage relations with farmers.

In 1998, the proportion of migrant farmworkers who had entered South Africa without documentation was over 90 percent. This made them very vulnerable to arrest and deportation when they were off the farm, or when the police raided the farms (often just before payday with the connivance of farmers). More recently, the legal status of farm-workers has, somewhat inadvertently, improved. For the first decade of ANC rule, the South African government pursued a relentless rights-disregarding campaign of arrest and deportation of migrants from neighbouring states, under powers inherited from the apartheid government. Those draconian powers were meant to be softened somewhat by the Immigration Act of 2002 but deportations and rights abuses by agents of the state continued in defiance of the law and the Constitution. Between 1994 and 2008, over 2 million people were detained and forcibly removed from South Africa in a policy widely regarded as a complete and extremely expensive failure. The numbers would have been even higher but for the well-known propensity of the police to accept bribes in exchange for not arresting migrants or tearing up their documentation. The disruption to lives and livelihoods has been immense, an aspect of the migration and development “debate” which has received scant attention globally.

Zimbabweans have increasingly born the brunt of deportations. In 2005, Zimbabwean deportations exceeded those of Mozambicans for the first time and have since risen to over 150,000 per annum. Denied access to the South African refugee system or documentation to work in South Africa, Zimbabweans became easy prey for a dispirited police force anxious to boost its “crime-fighting” statistics. The result has been the dangerous and corrupting “revolving door” of expulsion, re-entry, evasion, arrest and re-deportation. The policy shift should spell relief for migrant farmworkers who have been preyed on mercilessly by the police in Limpopo Province for many years. However, at the same time, the Immigration Act also regularized a set of very messy, local arrangements (including farmers issuing their own “work permits”) that prevailed in the area for the first decade after apartheid. Farmers have been applying for, and been granted, corporate work permits under the Act to hire a specified number of foreign workers. Unfortunately, legal status has not made much difference to the working and living conditions of the average Zimbabwean migrant farmworker.

SAMP has consistently tried to understand migration in terms both of its general macro-level characteristics and trends and as experienced through the eyes of migrants themselves. This volume therefore discusses the results of large-scale, statistically representative national household surveys and provides examples of how migration is experienced, talked about and interpreted by individual migrants. One of the major shifts in migration over the last two decades is growing female cross-border migration. In the case of Zimbabwe, this process has been accelerated by the economic collapse of the country. Initially, in the 1990s, the majority of female Zimbabwean migrants worked in informal cross-border trade. In the last decade, this has changed dramatically, as unemployed women have looked to use their formal sector skills and experience in South Africa. The chapter in this volume by Kate Lefko-Everett examines this shift from the perspective of the women themselves.

Lefko-Everett provides a mechanism for the “voices” of migrant women to be heard, through extensive verbatim quotation from in-depth individual interviews and focus groups. The women are extremely direct and frank about the factors encouraging migration from Zimbabwe. They are in South Africa out of necessity, not because they find it a pleasant place to be. SAMP has shown how pervasive and virulent xenophobic attitudes are in contemporary South Africa.71 All foreigners from Africa are disliked, and those from Zimbabwe even more than most. While the xenophobic violence of May 2008 was directed at foreign migrants in general, many Zimbabweans were caught up in the firestorm – at least five of those who were killed were Zimbabwean.72 Xenophobia was not a new experience for migrant women in South Africa, however, as the women’s “voices” reproduced here clearly show.

Crossing into South Africa, as Lefko-Everett’s respondents show, is an extremely hazardous undertaking. There is a clear preference for legal border crossing, not least because it is much safer. At the same time, many women are forced into irregular channels by costs and the restrictive visa regime between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Once in those channels they face almost certain physical hardship, exploitation and, in many cases, sexual assault. The interaction between border-crossing and sexual violence in South Africa is a shameful by-product of draconian, but ultimately pointless and ineffective border controls in Southern Africa. Do borders serve any function other than the sexual and material gratification of those, including male agents of the state, who prey on disempowered migrant women?

The question of the “purpose” of borders within Southern Africa is also raised by Nelson Pophiwa’s chapter on clandestine informal trading across the Mozambican and Zimbabwe border. In the eyes of the state, borders are there to clearly demarcate the territorial limits of the nation-state and its differentiation from its neighbours. Zimbabwe, however, has six neighbours and thousands of kilometres of unguarded and unpatrolled borders. The challenge to the state comes when the borders are ineffective physical barriers, when people have reasons for crossing them and when the state cannot prevent them from doing so by force or deterrent.

As Pophiwa points out, large-scale informal trading under the noses of the authorities took off in the 1990s along the border with Mozambique and exploded with the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe. The state engages in sporadic high-profile efforts to crack down on “smuggling” (defined as such for its supposed illegality) without a great deal of success. The trade is simply too important to households that have few other means of economic survival. The state blames syndicates and gangs when, in truth, most “smugglers” are ordinary men, women and children. This border is considerably less dangerous for border-crossers than others (such as the South Africa-Zimbabwe boundary). This is because, in the study area at least, the border cuts communities of similar culture and language in two. Local cross-border movement to visit friends and relatives has been going on for many years. Everyone knows about the paths across the border and can guide those who come from outside the district, adding to their income. In other words, it is the very existence of the border that makes “smuggling” an economically attractive proposition. And it is the fact that people know the border so well, through long residence in the border zone, that renders it ineffectual as a means of controlling “smuggling.” The best the state can hope for is to drive the trade through the formal border post where officials can collect duties from some and demand bribes from the rest.

The next three chapters in the volume examine the central question of how households have managed to survive in a country that is in total economic disarray. As argued earlier, remittances from those who do leave are the key to unlocking why more people do not flee collapsing states and how households keep going in intolerable circumstances. Because so much of the remittance flow to Zimbabwe is informal in nature, there are no reliable estimates of the total sums involved. The chapter by Daniel Tevera, Abel Chikanda and Jonathan Crush presents the results of the first national survey of remittance-receiving households in Zimbabwe, conducted in 2005 by SAMP. In the year prior to the survey, 75 percent of migrant-sending households had received remittances. Although the remittance package (in rand terms) was not large (an average of R3,700 per annum), the regularity of remitting behaviour is very striking, with 62 percent of households receiving cash remittances at least once a month. Almost two-thirds had received remittances in the form of goods in the year prior to the survey, including foodstuffs (for example, maize-meal, sugar, salt, and cooking oil) as well as consumer goods (such as bicycles, radios, sofas, agricultural inputs and building materials.) Informal channels are definitely the preferred method of remitting with 70 percent either bringing the money in person or sending it with a relative, friend or co-worker. This is enabled by an extremely regular pattern of home visits, confirming that the vast majority of migrants see themselves as “temporary exiles” engaged in circular migration.

The survey found that various factors influence the amounts remitted by individual migrants. For instance, heads of households remit more on average than their children. Men remit slightly more than women – an indication of greater labour market access and higher earning potential in destination countries. Those in the 40-59 age group remit more than migrants in any other age category, probably because they have the greatest number of dependants. Married migrants remit more than those who are single for similar reasons. The geographical destination of migrants also affects the volume of remittance flows. Migrants overseas remit more on average than those within Southern Africa. This is consistent with another finding – that skilled migrants tend to remit more than those who are unskilled or semi-skilled. However, the gap is not massive, suggesting that the latter probably remit a much greater proportion of what they do earn.

The bulk of remittances are spent on basic livelihood needs. Food purchase is particularly important but remittances are also vital in providing for clothing, transportation, school fees, housing and medical treatment. Remittances are the main source of household income for the surveyed households but the situation is precarious as the vast majority of households depend on just one or two migrants. Forty-two percent of households in the survey said they spend 40 percent or more of their income on food. Twelve percent spend over 70 percent of their income on food. Very little of the remittance package is available for savings or investment in income-generating activity. Without remittance flows, the situation of many Zimbabwean households would be even more dire. Remittances reduce vulnerability to hunger, ill-health and poverty in both rural and urban households. Households with migrants go without basic necessities less often. Remittances also allow families to keep children in school and to put roofs over the heads of household members.

The authors point to a double irony. Without the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, migration would not have reached the volume that it has. In turn, migration (through remittances) has staved off the worst aspects of that crisis for many households, and even kept the national economy afloat: “However, the depth of the crisis and the struggle for survival mean that remittances are rarely used in a systematic or sustained manner for what might broadly be called “developmental” purposes. That is not why migrants remit and those are not the uses to which remittances are put.”

The other two chapters dealing specifically with remittances add considerable nuance to the national picture sketched by Tevera, Chikanda and Crush. In their chapter, Sarah Bracking and Lloyd Sachikonye discuss the results of two surveys of urban households in Zimbabwe, conducted a year apart in the same cities (2005 and 2006). In 2006, 50 percent of households in Harare and Bulawayo were receiving remittances from outside the country. The proportion of households receiving cash remittances at least once a month was over 70 percent in both years. In a single year, there was an increase in the number of households reporting that the receipt of goods was a regular event (from 38 percent to 52 percent), a reflection of the increasingly empty store shelves in both cities. Another significant shift in a single year was a noticeable increase in personal conveyance as the main channel for remitting. Use of all other channels (including entrusting remittances to friends or co-workers) declined between 2005 and 2006. A decline in the use of formal sector banks for remitting corresponded to increased reliance on informal mechanisms of currency exchange. In 2006, over 50 percent of remittance-receiving households used money changers (up from 40 percent in 2005.) As the authors point out, this signifies the ever-greater and unrealistic gap between official and parallel rates during the survey period and suggests a consolidation of the parallel market.

Bracking and Sachikonye also reflect on the struggle between state and citizen over control of the remittance package. Migrant remittances clearly play an important role in household poverty reduction. However, “not only are Zimbabwean dollar receipts subject to constant devaluation, remittance receivers have experienced expulsion and government extortion.” Although households resist the pressure from the government to surrender remittance receipts into the formal system, the market value of remittances does not stay constant at the parallel rate. The Zimbabwean ruling elite view remittances as somehow belonging to them, and punitive taxation regimes and spurious taxes are often devised to capture some of the income sent by migrants. The government’s “Home Link” scheme failed because “the indirect tax built into the scheme was punitive in relation to the value of the money.” However, the lucrative rents and profits to be found in money changing and money supply in transactional exchange between the informal and formal economy benefits the “cash barons” at the heart of government. “Spoils politics” undermines the pecuniary value of remittances, by reproducing chronic scarcity in goods markets, and by failing the citizens in terms of the welfare obligations of government to the poor.

The chapter on remittances by France Maphosa explores the relationship between remittances and irregularity in the context of migration to South Africa from a rural district in southern Zimbabwe. Undocumented migrants in South Africa face a double bind. Their irregular employment status makes it difficult to access the formal labour market without the connivance of South African employers seeking cheap, exploitable labour. This means that even those who do obtain employment are underpaid and have less to remit home. Their irregular legal status makes them vulnerable to arrest and deportation with consequent loss of employment and earnings. To avoid deportation, they are forced to pay bribes to the police. They keep their jobs (until the next arrest) but have less to remit. Nevertheless, in Maphosa’s study, nearly 80 percent of rural households surveyed still received regular remittances. As in the towns, remittances are used primarily for household livelihood needs. There is some investment in agriculture (stock purchase and buying seeds and fertilizer) but no significant investment in other income-generating activity. While virtually all remittances go through informal channels, undocumented migrants take much greater personal risks if they go home as often as they would like. As a result, these migrants are connected with their home communities by the activities of omalayisha (transport operators) who ferry goods and cash from migrants to their rural homes.

Maphosa shows how irregular migrants seek to minimize the odds of being arrested and deported by “blending” as far as possible into local communities and populations. Most of these migrants have learned one or two South African languages as the South African police often use cultural signifiers and lack of language proficiency as markers of “foreignness.” The local symbols and products acquired by migrants extend to dress, music, dances, style of walking, mannerisms and food. The term injiva describes a distinct migrant way of life, a combination of characteristics such as language, dressing, preferences for music (usually the kwaito genre), type of dance, style of walking, mannerisms, food preferences and even temperament. As Maphosa argues, the introduction of cultural symbols and practices into the rural community by young migrants often causes conflict with elders who decry the loss of “local cultural values” due to migration.

The final two chapters in this volume build on Maphosa’s examination of the reception of Zimbabwean migrants in countries of destination, especially South Africa. Hostility towards foreign migrants has been a pervasive and troubling feature of post-apartheid South Africa, culminating in widespread violence against non-citizens in May 2008 which killed over 60 people and displaced over 100,000. The “dark side of democracy” was of little relevance to Zimbabweans prior to the disintegration of their own country and the emergence of South Africa as a migrant destination. As migration increased, South Africans had very little difficulty transferring their general dislike of foreign nationals to Zimbabweans, migrants from a neighbouring country with strong historical ties to South Africa. A leading force in the reconfiguration of Zimbabweans as a threat to South Africans was the South African media. The chapter by Aquilina Mawadza and Jonathan Crush shows how the xenophobic media sentiment of the 1990s was repackaged to represent Zimbabwean migration to South Africa. The negative metaphors associated with migration came to epitomize media coverage of Zimbabweans coming to and living in South Africa. The chapter shows how three dominant anti-immigration metaphors (the migrant as alien, migration as an unnatural disaster and migration as a process of invasion) were, and continue to be, applied to Zimbabwean migrants. The South African media is always quick to distance itself from xenophobia but this chapter leaves little doubt about media complicity.

While the media and ordinary citizens have responded with venom to the growing presence of Zimbabweans in South Africa, the government, in contrast, has adopted a position of “studied indifference.” The final chapter in this volume, by Tara Polzer, analyses the institutional response to Zimbabwean migration. After reviewing the evidence she concludes that the South African government “has failed to meet its legal obligations to Zimbabwean migrants, including its obligation to prevent refoulement and to uphold basic constitutional rights.” The government’s “business as usual” approach means an inability or unwillingness to articulate an overall policy position on migration from Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean migrants are treated (and mistreated) as if this was just another unwanted migration movement to the country, rather than a crisis-driven influx requiring a coordinated policy response. So total has been the silence from the central government that other levels of government have no guidance or operational framework with which to work. Polzer attributes the paralysis within government concerning Zimbabweans in South Africa to South Africa’s foreign policy stance on Zimbabwe and associated tendency to downplay the magnitude of the social and economic crisis within Zimbabwe itself.

Governmental paralysis has made life in South Africa extremely challenging for most Zimbabwean migrants. There is an assumption that civil society organizations have managed to pick up much of the slack. Polzer challenges this view, arguing that civil society has also failed to develop a coherent response to the challenge of Zimbabwean migration. The cumulative impact of actors dealing with legal and protection issues and those providing social welfare has been relatively small in relation to numbers and needs. Furthermore, “where Zimbabwean issues have brought together a wider range of South African civil society institutions, including labour unions and social movements, this has been mainly focussed on advocacy regarding the situation within Zimbabwe, rather than the plight of Zimbabweans in South Africa.” The South African Human Rights Commission, which abandoned an anti-xenophobia campaign in 2002 in favour of rights issues affecting citizens, has also abdicated its potential role as a voice on Zimbabwean migration.

The economic and social collapse of Zimbabwe has been both a consequence and a cause of migration. The transformation of Zimbabwe into one of the world’s larger migrant-sending states has largely been prompted by the intolerable situation at home and the need to find employment to support those who remain behind. No one knows quite how many Zimbabweans have left, or exactly how much they send home. In an especially vicious cycle, out-migration of the skilled, in particular, weakened the economy and accelerated the collapse of public services. That, in turn, has provided others with greater incentive to leave. But the final meltdown has been delayed precisely because migrants remit and households could survive, buying food and fuel, paying school fees and meeting medical expenses. Yet, the reception that migrants have received outside their own country has been anything but welcoming. Acceptance and integration have certainly not been the experience of most Zimbabweans in the major destination countries of South Africa, the United Kingdom and Botswana. Given this, and the reasons for leaving in the first place, it is worth asking, in conclusion, about the likelihood of return migration if conditions were to change in Zimbabwe. Or, to put it another way, what would have to change to entice people back?

Daniel Makina put this question to Zimbabweans in Johannesburg. Over two-thirds said they would return for good if Zimbabwe were to normalize. A third did say they would stay in South Africa, but only 6 percent said they would remain permanently. Of the 72 percent who would return home, 48 percent said they would want to return and set up a business, 25 percent said they would want to be “gainfully employed,” 14 percent would want to work in the NGO sector and the rest simply said they would “settle.” Twenty-one percent of the total sample (and 62 percent of those who would stay in South Africa) said they would want to establish a business in South Africa. These findings suggest, first, that the vast majority of Zimbabweans want to go back if the conditions are right. And even those who do not want to go back straightaway would want to invest in and grow businesses at home. Second, perhaps sceptical that Zimbabwe’s unemployment problem will be easily overcome, many migrants see entrepreunership as the way forward, possibly indicating that the émigré experience has encouraged a more entrepreneurial spirit and knowledge.

The similarities with Zimbabwean migrants in the United Kingdom are striking. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of Zimbabweans interviewed by Alice Bloch said they definitely wanted to return and a further 22 percent might want to return. As in South Africa, only 6 percent definitely did not want to return. Bloch also found that migrants with a partner or children in Zimbabwe had even higher rates of potential return (over 80 percent). Length of time and legal status in the UK were also important determinants. In general, as Bloch shows, the longer people had been in the UK and the more secure their immigration status, the lower the desire to return to Zimbabwe. Only half of those with UK or EU citizenship wanted to return, for example.

What does “normalization” mean for Zimbabweans abroad? Improvement in the political situation was mentioned by nearly 90 percent as a precondition for return. Other preconditions include an improvement in the economy (mentioned by over 80 percent), the security situation (over 70 percent) and the health situation (over 60 percent). Finally, when asked what development activities they were interested in pursuing in Zimbabwe, 62 percent said that investment in business was a priority. As with migrants in South Africa, entrepreneurial activity rates most highly, surely an encouraging sign for the rebuilding of a crisis-ridden country that has seen its “best and brightest” leave over the last two decades, but not necessarily for good.

NOTES

1 N. Van Hear, New Diasporas: The Mass Exodus, Dispersal and Regrouping Of Migrant Communities (London: Taylor & Francis, 2007).

2 Solidarity Peace Trust, No War in Zimbabwe: An Account of the Exodus of a Nation’s People (Port Shepstone, 2004); A. Bloch, “Emigration from Zimbabwe: Migrant Perspectives” Social Policy & Administration 40(1) (2006):67-87.

3 H. Besada and N. Moyo, Zimbabwe in Crisis: Mugabe’s Policies and Failures, Working Paper, Centre for International Governance Innovation, Waterloo, 2008.

4 L. Zinyama and D. Tevera, Zimbabweans Who Move: Perspectives on International Migration in Zimbabwe, SAMP Migration Policy Series No. 25, Cape Town, 2002.

5 R. Leslie, ed., Migration from Zimbabwe: Numbers, Needs and Policy Options (Johannesburg: CDE, 2008).

6 Human Rights Watch, Neighbors in Need: Zimbabweans Seeking Refuge in South Africa (New York, 2008), p. 3.

7 A. Hammar, B. Raftopoulos and S. Jensen, eds., Zimbabwe’s Unfinished Business: R ethinking Land, State and Nation in the Context of Crisis (Harare: Weaver, 2003); B. Raftopolous and I. Phimister, “Zimbabwe Now: The Political Economy of Crisis and Coercion” Historical Materialism 12(4): 355– 82; S. Dansereau and M. Zamponi, “Zimbabwe: The Political Economy of Decline” Discussion Paper 27, Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Uppsala, 2005.

8 See Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM), Migration in an Interconnected World: New Directions for Action (Geneva, 2005); United Nations, International Migration and Development: Report of the Secretary General, A60/871/, UN General Assembly, New York, 2006; World Bank, Global Economic Prospects 2006: Economic Implications of Remittances and Migration (Washington: World Bank, 2006); J. DeWind and J. Holdaway, eds., Migration and Development Within and Across Borders: Research and Policy Perspectives on Internal and International Migration (Geneva: IOM, 2008); R. Skeldon, “International Migration as a Tool in Development Policy: A Passing Phase?” Population and Development Review 34(1) (2008): 1-18; L. Chappell and A. Glennie, “Maximising the Development Outcomes of Migration: A Policy Perspective” UNDP Human Development Reports Research Paper 2009/11, New York, 2009.

9 P. Fagen with M. Bump, “Remittances in Conflict and Crises: How Remittances Sustain Livelihoods in War, Crises, and Transitions to Peace” Policy Paper, International Peace Academy, Georgetown University, Washington 2006.

10 A. Sparks, “SADC Leaders Should Refuse to Recognize Mugabe as President” Cape Times 25 June 2008; J. Crush, “Numbers Game” Cape Times 27 June 2008.

11 L. Landau, “Drowning in Numbers: Interrogating New Patterns of Zimbabwean Migration to South Africa” In R. Leslie, ed., Migration from Zimbabwe: Numbers, Needs and Policy Options (Johannesburg: Centre for Development and Enterprise, 2008), pp. 7-15.

12 “Mbeki Claims Millions of Zimbabweans in SA” News24 16 October 2003.

13 Ibid.

14 Landau, “Drowning in Numbers”

15 This is the number of recorded border-crossings not separate individuals who may have crossed many times during the year. Once a valid visa is issued a person may cross backwards and forwards until the visa expires without being recorded in these statistics. In other words, these figures should be seen as indicative not definitive.

16 J. Crush and B. Frayne, “Perspectives on the Migration-Development Nexus in Southern Africa” Development Southern Africa 24(1) (2007): 1-24.

17 S. Maimbo and D. Ratha, eds., Remittances: Development Impacts and Future Prospects (Washington: World Bank, 2005); World Bank, Global Economic Prospects. Economic Implications of Remittances and Migration (Washington: World Bank, 2005); P. Giuliano and M. Ruiz-Arranz, “Remittances, Financial Development and Growth” Working Paper 05/234, IMF, Washington, 2005; OECD, Migration, Remittances and Development (Paris: OECD, 2005); B. Ghosh, Migrants’ Remittances and Development: Myths, Rhetoric and Realities (Geneva: IOM, 2006).

18 H. de Haas, “International Migration, Remittances and Development: Myths and Facts” Third World Quarterly 26(8) (2005): 1269-84; D. Kapur, “Remittances: The New Development Mantra?” In Maimbo and Ratha, Remittances, pp. 331-60; H. de Haas, “Migration, Remittances and Social Development: A Conceptual Review of the Literature” Social Policy and Development Programme Paper No 34, UNRISD, Geneva, 2007.

19 W. Pendleton, J. Crush, E. Campbell, T. Green, H. Simelane, D. Tevera and F. de Vletter, “Migration, Remittances and Development in Southern Africa” Migration Policy Series No. 44, Cape Town, 2006, p. 1; K. Newland, “Migration as a Factor in Development and Poverty Reduction: The Impact of Rich Countries’ Immigration Policies on the Prospects of the Poor” In R. Picciotto and R. Weaving, (eds.), Impact of Rich Countries’ Policies on Poor Countries (New Brunswick NJ: Transaction, 2004), pp. 194-5.

20 K. Hamilton, “Migration and Development: Blind Faith and Hard-to-Find Facts” Migration Policy Institute, Washington, 2003.

21 Fagen with Bump, “Remittances in Conflict and Crises”; P. Fagen, “Remittances in Crises: A Haiti Case Study” Background Paper, Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute, London, 2006; A. Lindley, “Remittances in Fragile Settings: A Somali Case Study” Working Paper No. 27, Households in Conflict Network, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, 2007.

22 Pendleton et al, Migration, Remittances and Development in Southern Africa.

23 F. Maphosa, “Remittances and Development: The Impact of Migration to South Africa on Rural Livelihoods in Southern Zimbabwe” Development Southern Africa 24(1) (2007), p. 132.

24 S. Bracking and L. Sachikonye, “Remittances, Poverty Reduction and the Informalisation of Household Wellbeing in Zimbabwe” Working Paper No. 45, Global Poverty Research Group, 2006; Maphosa, “Remittances and Development” pp. 123-36.

25 Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET), “Zimbabwe Food Security Outlook” at http://v4.fews.net/docs/Publications/Zimbabwe_200708en.pdf

26 D. Kapur and J. McHale, “The Global Migration of Talent: What Does It Mean for Developing Countries?” Center for Global Development Brief, Washington, October 2005.

27 F. Docquier and A. Marfouk, “International Migration by Education Attainment, 1990-2000” In Ozden and Schiff, International Migration, p. 154.

28 F. Docquier and A. Marfouk, “Measuring the International Mobility of Skilled Workers (1990-2000)” Policy Research Working Paper 3381, World Bank, Washington, 2004; D. Kapur and J. McHale, Give Us Your Best and Brightest (Washington: Center for Global Development, 2005).

29 L. Lowell, A. Findlay and E. Stewart, “Brain Strain: Optimising Highly Skilled Migration from Developing Countries” Asylum and Migration Working Paper 3, Institute for Public Policy Research, London, 2004, p. 9.

30 I. Goldin and K. Reinert, Globalization for Development (Washington: World Bank, 2006), p. 183.

31 Kapur and McHale, Give Us Your Best and Brightest.

32 U. Hunger, “The ‘Brain Gain’ Hypothesis: Third World Elites in Industrialized Countries and Socioeconomic Development in their Home Country” Working Paper of Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, University of California, San Diego, 2002; O. Stark, “Rethinking the Brain Drain” Discussion Paper on Development Policy No. 71, Centre for Development Research, University of Bonn, Bonn, 2003; Lowell, et al., “Brain Strain”; M. Beine, F. Docquier, and H. Rapoport, “Brain Drain and LDCs’ Growth: Winners and Losers” IZA Discussion Paper No. 819, Institute for the Study of Labour, Bonn, 2003; S. Commander, M. Kangasniemi, and L. Winters, “The Brain Drain: Curse or Boon?” IZA Discussion Paper No. 809, Institute for the Study of Labour, Bonn, 2003; O. Stark and C. Fan, “Losses and Gains to Developing Countries from the Migration of Educated Workers” Discussion Paper on Development Policy No 116, University of Bonn, Bonn, 2007.

33 Stark and Fan, “Losses and Gains to Developing Countries.”

34 A. Tanner, Emigration, Brain Drain and Development: The Case of Sub-Saharan Africa (Helsinki: East-West Books, 2005), p. 77.

35 D.A. McDonald and J. Crush, eds., Destinations Unknown: Perspectives on the Brain Drain in Southern Africa (Pretoria and Cape Town: Africa Institute and SAMP, 2002).

36 R. Gaidzanwa, Voting With Their Feet: Migrant Zimbabwean Nurses and Doctors in the Era of Structural Adjustment (Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 1999); C. Chetsanga, An Analysis of the Cause and Effect of the Brain Drain in Zimbabwe (Harare: Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre, 2003); D. Tevera and J. Crush, The New Brain Drain from Zimbabwe, SAMP Migration Policy Series No. 25, Cape Town, 2003; D. Tevera, Early Departures: The Emigration Potential of Zimbabwean Students, SAMP Migration Policy Series No. 39, Cape Town, 2005.

37 A. Chikanda, “Skilled Health Professionals’ Migration and Its Impact on Health Delivery in Zimbabwe” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 32(4) (2006): 667-81; A. Chikanda, “Medical Migration from Zimbabwe in the Post-Esap Era: Magnitude, Causes and Impact on the Poor” Development Southern Africa 24(1) (2007): 47-60.

38 D. Taylor and K. Barlow, “What About the Future? Long-Term Migration Potential to South Africa from Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe” In D.A. McDonald, (ed.), On Borders: Perspectives on International Migration in Southern Africa (New York and Cape Town: St Martin’s Press and SAMP, 2000), pp. 151-67; Tevera, Early Departures.

39 J. Carling, “Gender Dimensions of International Migration” Global Migration Perspectives No. 35, Global Commission on International Migration, Geneva, 2005; N. Piper, “Gender and Migration” Policy Analysis and Research Programme, Global Commission on International Migration, Geneva, 2005.

40 H. Zlotnik, “The Global Dimensions of Female Migration” Migration Information Source, Migration Policy Institute, Washington, 2003.

41 N. Piper, ed., New Perspectives on Gender and Migration: Rights, Entitlements and Livelihoods (London: Routledge 2008).

42 B. Dodson, “Women on the Move: Gender and Cross-Border Migration to South Africa from Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe” In McDonald, On Borders, pp. 71-85; B. Dodson with H. Simelane, D. Tevera, T. Green, A. Chikanda and F. de Vletter, Gender, Migration and Remittances in Southern Africa, SAMP Migration Policy Series No. 49, Cape Town, 2008.

43 L. Zinyama, “Who, What, When and Why: Cross-Border Movement from Zimbabwe to South Africa” In McDonald, On Borders, p. 77.

44 Y. Kutznetsov, ed., Diaspora Networks and the International Migration of Skills: How Countries Can Draw on Their Talent Abroad (Washington: World Bank Institute, 2006); H. de Haas, “Engaging Diasporas: How Governments and Development Agencies Can Support Diaspora Involvement in the Development of Origin Countries” International Migration Institute, Oxford University, 2006; D. Ionescu, “Engaging Diasporas as Development Partners for Home and Destination Countries: Challenges for Policymakers” Research Series No. 26, International Organization for Migration, Geneva, 2006; R. Cohen, Global Diasporas: 2nd Edition (London: Routledge, 2008).

45 N. Van Hear, F. Pieke, and S. Vertovec, “The Contribution of UK-Based Diasporas to Development and Poverty Reduction” Report for the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, Oxford University, 2004; see also K. Newland and E. Patrick, “Beyond Remittances: The Role of Diasporas in Poverty Reduction in their Countries of Origin” Study for the UK-Department for International Development (DFID), 2003.

46 A. Pandey, A. Aggarwal, R. Devane and Y. Kuznetsov, “The Indian Diaspora: A Unique Case?” In Kuznetsov, Diaspora Networks, pp. 71-98; D. Zweig, Chung Siu Fung and Donglin Han, “Redefining the Brain Drain: China’s ‘Diaspora Option’” Science Technology and Society 13(1) (2008): 1-33.

47 African Union, “Programme of Action of the First Africa Ministerial Conference on the Diaspora” Johannesburg, 2007.

48 L. Henry and G. Mohan, “Making Homes: The Ghanaian Diaspora, Institutions and Development” Journal of International Development 15(5) (2003): 611-22.

49 D. Pasura, “Gendering the Diaspora: Zimbabwean Migrants in Britain” African Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Africa in a Global World 1(1-2) (2008): 86-109.

50 See, for example, D. Pasura, “Zimbabwean Transnational Diaspora Politics in Britain” Paper presented at Conference on Diasporas and Decentralised Development, St Erasmus University, Rotterdam, 2008.

51 A. Bloch, “Zimbabweans in Britain: Transnational Activities and Capabilities” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 34(2) (2008): 287-305; J. McGregor, “Abject Spaces, Transnational Calculations: Zimbabweans in Britain Navigating Work, Class and the Law” Transactions of Institute of British Geographers 33 (2008): 466-82.

52 N. Glick Schiller and G. Fouron, “Terrains of Blood and Nation: Haitian Transnational Social Fields” Ethnic and Racial Studies 22(2) (1999), p. 344.

53 A. Portes, L. Guarnizo and P. Landolt, “The Study of Transnationalism: Pitfalls and Promises of an Emergent Research Field” Ethnic and Racial Studies 22(2) (1999), p. 219.

54 N. Glick Schiller, L. Basch and C. Blanc-Szanton, “From Immigrant to Transmigrant: Theorizing Transnational Migration” Anthropology Quarterly 68(1) (1995), p. 48.

55 See P. Levitt and N. Nyberg-Sorenson, “The Transnational Turn in Migration Studies” Global Migration Perspectives No 6, Global Commission on International Migration, 2004; S. Vertovec, Transnationalism (London: Routledge, 2009). For a critique see R. Waldinger and D. Fitzgerald, “Transnationalism in Question” American Journal of Sociology 109(5) (2004): 1177-95; and R. Waldinger. “‘Immigrant ‘Transnationalism’ and the Presence of the Past” In E. Barkan, H. Diner and A. Kraut, eds, From Arrival to Incorporation: Migrants to the U.S. in a Global Era (New York: New York University Press, 2008), pp. 267-85.

56 K. Newland, D. Agunias and A. Terrazas, “Learning by Doing: Experiences of Circular Migration” Migration Policy Institute, Washington, 2008.

57 Vertovec, Transnationalism.

58 Portes, Guamizo and Landolt, “Study of Transnationalism” p. 229.

59 N. Piper, “Rethinking the Migration-Development Nexus: Bringing Marginalized Visions and Actors to the Fore” Population, Space and Place 15(2) (2009): 93-101.

60 J. Crush and D.A. McDonald, Transnationalism and New African Immigration to South Africa (Toronto and Cape Town: CAAS and SAMP, 2002).

61 Zimbabwe Torture Victims Project, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Window on the Situation of Zimbabweans living in Gauteng” Idasa, Pretoria, 2005; Human Rights Watch (HRW), Unprotected Migrants: Zimbabweans in South Africa’s Limpopo Province (Johannesburg 2006); E. Sisulu, B. Moyo and N. Tshuma, “The Zimbabwean Community in South Africa” In S. Buhlungu, J. Daniel, R. Southall and J. Lutchman, eds., State of the Nation: South Africa 2007 (Cape Town: HSRC Press, 2007) pp. 552-73; B. Rutherford, “An Unsettled Belonging: Zimbabwean Farm Workers in Limpopo Province, South Africa” Journal of Contemporary African Studies 26(4) (2008): 401-15; McGregor, “Abject Spaces.”

62 Southern African Migration Project, “The Perfect Storm: The Realities of Xenophobia in Contemporary South Africa”, SAMP Migration Policy Series No. 50, Cape Town, 2008.

63 J. Crush and W. Pendleton, Regionalizing Xenophobia? Citizen Attitudes to Immigration and Refugee Policy in Southern Africa, SAMP Migration Policy Series No. 30, Cape Town, 2004.

64 J. McGregor, “Joining the BBC (British Bottom Cleaners): Zimbabwean Migrants and the UK Care Industry” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 33(5) (2007): 801-24.

65 M. Cowen and R. Shenton, “The Invention of Development” in J. Crush, (ed.), Power of Development (London: Routledge, 1995): 27-43.

66 J. Crush, “Migrations Past: An Historical Overview of Cross-Border Movement in Southern Africa” in McDonald, On Borders, pp. 12-24.

67 C. Van Onselen, Chibaro: African Mine Labour in Southern Rhodesia, 1900-1933 (London: Pluto Press, 1976); W. Beinart, The Political Economy of Pondoland, 1860-1930 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982); R. First, Black Gold: The Mozambican Miner, Proletarian and Peasant (Brighton: St Martin’s Press, 1983); J. Crush, The Struggle for Swazi Labour, 1890-1920 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1987); W. Worger, South Africa’s City of Diamonds: Mine Workers and Monopoloy Capitalism in Kimberley, 1867-1895 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987); P. Harries, Work, Culture and Identity: Migrant Labourers in Mozambique and South Africa, c. 1860-1910 (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1994); D. Moodie, Going for Gold: Men, Mines and Migration (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).

68 J. DeWind and J. Holdaway, “Internal and International Development in Economic Development” Paper for Fourth UN Coordination Meeting on International Migration, New York, 2005. See also R. King, R. Skeldon and J. Vullnetari, “Internal and International Migration: Bridging the Theoretical Divide” Paper presented at Conference on Theories of Migration and Social Change, Oxford University, 2008.

69 N. Harris, Thinking the Unthinkable: The Immigration Myth Exposed (London: IB Taurus, 2002), p.87.

70 O. Stark, “Rethinking the Braindrain” World Development 32 (1) (2004): 15-22.

71 SAMP, “The Perfect Storm.”

72 Ibid.

THE TRUTH WILL COME OUT

My grandmother came to Johannesburg long ago before my mother was born. My mother was born in 1937 and she is the last born of nine children. My grandmother worked here for so long and she told us her mother had worked in South Africa too. My mother never came here though. Only my aunties and uncle would come here. Some came and stayed forever and some just worked for a few years and went home. My father was a policeman during the time of Smith and the government of South Africa allowed the police to come here so my father came and looked for work here as a policeman. He went up and down.

Immediately after finishing school in Zimbabwe I went for an interview to be a teacher. I passed my interview but when we were supposed to go for a teaching course I found my name wasn’t there. I don’t want to speak about the government of Zimbabwe but at that time they used surnames. This is an Ndebele, this is a Shona. They gave preference to Shonas even if they did not pass the interview. I was just disappointed so I came to South Africa instead. At first I was a garden boy and later I became a houseman. Now I am a salesman in a small shop for bags and jewellery. My sister is working as a domestic worker and my brother-in-law is working for a company in Germiston. Working hours are too long for me: from 8 o’clock to 5 o’clock and there is no lunch hour. You have to eat while you are serving the customers. I earn R650 a month. From there I just go to my flat and sleep. There is nothing else I do except on Sundays I go to church.

The police here are always a problem. They keep on asking you this and that. I hate to be asked the same thing by the same police every day. Sometimes my aunt has to come and talk to them so I am not arrested. I don’t accept that foreigners are the crime causers or whatever. When I came to South Africa, I found that the jails here were there for South Africans. So it wasn’t only foreigners who were committing crimes. The police are afraid to arrest South Africans because they are told that someone will come to their house and kill the children. So the police turn to us foreigners because they know we can’t do anything. They arrest us to keep themselves busy so that the government will think they are doing their job by saying “I arrested 1,000 immigrants.” But they are running away from the fact that they are not arresting their fellow South Africans. They also will never stop the white man in the street and ask him “where are your documents?” I do agree that some foreigners do crimes but when you take the percentage I can say that over 90% of criminals are South Africans. I always tell myself one day the truth will come out.

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Chapter Two
A History of Zimbabwean Migration to 1990

Alois S. Mlambo

Population migration into and out of present-day Zimbabwe long pre-dates European conquest and the imposition of artificial colonial borders. Not only did people move from one area to another as need arose, ethnic boundaries were fluid enough to allow individuals or groups to move in or out of population clusters and ethnic groupings with relative ease. Movement did not cease after the establishment of colonial boundaries either. These arbitrary borders divided families, clan groups and ethnic communities between different colonies. Examples abound: the Kalanga of southwestern Zimbabwe and northeastern Botswana; the Shangaan, Venda and Tsonga peoples of southern Zimbabwe, southern Mozambique and northern South Africa; the Manyika and Ndau people of eastern Zimbabwe and central Mozambique; and the various ethnic groups astride the Zambian-Malawi, the Zambian-Zimbabwean and the Zambian-Angolan borders, as well as the border between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Not surprisingly, local communities generally ignored these colonial impositions and went about their normal business with their kith and kin, crossing borders without regard to colonial laws and immigration requirements. They also crossed borders in search of employment, and for other reasons, and continue to do so to this day.

This chapter traces the long history of Zimbabwean migration from precolonial times to 1990.1 For much of this history, Zimbabwe was a destination country for migrants.Population movement into the area began with the peopling of the Zimbabwe Plateau. In the nineteenth century, there was an influx of groups from the south fleeing the Mfecane/Difaqane in South Africa. In the twentieth century, white immigrants from Europe and South Africa established farms and plantations and mines where they employed black migrants from neighbouring countries such as Malawi and Mozambique. Southern Africa’s “Thirty Years War” of liberation (from the 1960s to the 1990s) brought white immigrants fleeing independence in Africa and black refugees from the civil war in Mozambique.

Zimbabwe was also a “sending” country during the twentieth century although the numbers were generally much smaller. Migrant workers from some parts of Zimbabwe engaged in circular migration for work in South Africa. Zimbabwe’s own war of liberation forced many blacks into exile in the 1970s. They returned at independence, just as whites began to leave in growing numbers. However, in general, Zimbabwe was more of a receiving than a sending country before 1990. This was to change in the 1990s as the country was dramatically transformed into a leading migrant sending country. The primary purpose of this chapter is to situate this post-1990 transformation in historical context to identify the distinctive aspects of the current “exodus” when compared to earlier rounds of migration to and from the country.

PRECOLONIAL PEOPLING OF THE ZIMBABWE PLATEAU

Zimbabwe was originally the home of hunter-gathering, stone-age people who are believed to have inhabited the region from 100,000 years ago onwards. They were eventually displaced by the Bantu, an iron-age people with skills in mining and iron smelting, coming in from the north. By the year 1000, a cattle-keeping culture, referred to by archaeologists as the Leopard Kopje culture, had developed in south-western Zimbabwe, reaching its climax around 1100 with the development of Mapungubwe on the Shashe-Limpopo River confluence. This cattle-keeping and farming community traded in ivory and gold with traders from as far afield as China.

The Mapungubwe culture went into decline after 1300 with the rise of the Great Zimbabwe culture, with its capital at the Great Zimbabwe complex, built between 1200 and 1450, south-east of the modern Zimbabwean city of Masvingo. Like its Mapungubwe predecessor, the Great Zimbabwe culture was based on cattle-keeping and farming, as well as trade in gold with the Swahili coast. In its turn, this kingdom went into decline from about 1450 onwards, with some groups moving westwards to found the Torwa state whose capital was at Khami near the present-day city of Bulawayo. Others moved north-westwards to establish the Munhumutapa Kingdom, which by 1500 had expanded as far as the Indian Ocean and whose economy was based on gold mining and trade. The Munhumutapa Kingdom eventually went into decline in the face of growing Portuguese influence along the Indian Ocean. At the end of the 1600s, a new political power, the Rozvi Changamire state, emerged and remained powerful until it was destroyed, in turn, by the Nguni invasion from the south during the Mfecane/Difaqane.

In the early 1800s, political and demographic upheaval in the eastern part of South Africa (known to historians as the Mfecane/Difaqane), led to population movements that greatly impacted upon the demographic profile of the land between the Limpopo and the Zambezi and beyond. Some attribute the Mfecane/Difaqane, and the resultant depopulation of large swathes of land in the South African interior, to aggressive nation-building campaigns by the Zulu under Shaka.2 Others have labelled this view a self-serving historical invention and rationalization to justify white occupation of the interior with the excuse that it was unoccupied when they arrived because of the Mfecane/Difaqane. They attribute the population dispersal to drought and environmental degradation, trade, and the advance of white settlement. Whatever the causes, the Mfecane/Difaqane induced northward population movements which had far-reaching political and demographic effects on Zimbabwe.

In the 1820s, the first wave of Nguni migrants from the south under Zwangendaba destroyed the Rozvi/Changamire Kingdom, before crossing the Zambezi in 1835 and proceeding further north, reaching Lake Tanganyika in the late 1860s. Another group originating from northern Natal in the 1820s, under the leadership of Soshangane, devastated the area around present-day Maputo and then established the Gaza Empire, part of which encompassed the Shona-speaking groups of eastern Zimbabwe, such as the Manyika and the Ndau. Lastly came the Ndebele under Mzilikazi. Having initially settled in the northern Transvaal, Mzilikazi and his followers were forced to move northwards in 1837 because of the encroachment of Boers from the south. They eventually settled in southwestern Zimbabwe and established the Ndebele Kingdom incorporating local Rozvi groups in the process. Ndebele hegemony over southwestern Zimbabwe was to be broken only with the arrival of European colonialism at the turn of the century when white immigration changed the political and demographic profile of the country even further.

WHITE MIGRATION, 1890–19903

White hunters, adventurers, explorers and missionaries had long traversed the land between the Limpopo and the Zambezi before British colonization in 1890, but none had settled permanently in the region. This was all to change with the arrival of a group of approximately 700 whites, calling themselves the Pioneer Column. Armed and funded by Cecil John Rhodes through his recently-established British South Africa Company (BSAC), this advance party of British imperialism claimed the territory that was to be known as Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) for Britain by raising the Union Jack at Fort Salisbury (now Harare) in 1890. Thereafter, the BSAC and subsequent self-governing administrations after 1923 made determined efforts to encourage white immigration into the country in line with Rhodes’ dream of developing Rhodesia as a “white man’s country.”4

Early white immigration was fuelled in the run-up to the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910. There was a large inflow of mostly English-speaking immigrants from South Africa between 1901 and 1911 (from 11,000 to over 23,000), making this the fastest white population growth decade in the entire period of colonial rule (Table 2.1).5 Negotiated on favourable terms for the Afrikaners, the Union helped to push English-speaking South Africans into Rhodesia.6

Table 2.1: White Population Increase 1891-1969

Year

Total

% Increase

1891 (Est.)

1,500

-

1904

12,596

14.0

1911

23,606

87.0

1921

33,620

42.0

1931

49,910

48.0

1941

68,954

38.0

1951

136,017

97.0

1960

218,000

60.0

1969

262,000

14.0

Source: Rhodesia, Census of Population 1904-1969 (Salisbury: CSO, 1969), p. 62.

Increased white immigration was also a result of vigorous efforts by the BSAC government to entice white farmers into the country. Rhodes’ colonizing project had been driven by the belief and hope that the land north of the Limpopo had large gold deposits that would compare favourably with, if not surpass, those on the Rand. While the country did have some gold deposits, they were nowhere near as abundant as had been envisioned. The BSAC government turned to vigorously promoting commercial agriculture from 1902 onwards, once it “accepted the unpalatable fact that gold-mining was never going to constitute a basis for great wealth on the lines of the Witwatersrand.”7 In 1908, it adopted a white-agriculture policy that deliberately promoted settler agriculture; this included reducing land prices to prospective settlers and expanding the foreign and contract labour supply system to provide sufficient agricultural labour.8

The Company government’s commitment to settler agriculture included the establishment of recruiting and promotional offices in London and Glasgow, and a Land Settlement Department and Land Bank in Salisbury. As a result “there began a steady, if not very large, stream of immigrants of a good type, many being experienced farmers.”9 The Company also enticed immigrants through its own farming and ranching activities. From 1907, Company ranches “with pure-bred dairy of beef stock, citrus estates with large irrigation schemes, experimental tobacco estates with warehouses, and farms where mealies were the main crop, were acquired, stocked and equipped.”10

After a hiatus during World War One, white immigration picked up again.11 The attainment of Responsible government in 1923, the subsequent provision of development assistance by the British Government, and the British inauguration of a sponsored three-year settlement scheme led to substantial immigration from 1924 to 1928. The numbers declined from 1931 to 1936 because of the Great Depression and the deliberate Rhodesian government policy of discouraging immigration in order to minimize unemployment. Immigration also declined considerably during World War Two due to the difficulties of overseas travel.

After the War, immigration increased dramatically as hundreds of demobilised British soldiers entered the country as part of the Rhodesian government’s post-war settlement scheme. In 1948, a record 17,000 immigrants arrived.12 Over 100,000 Africans were moved from their lands to accommodate the new arrivals.13 Additional immigrants were attracted by job and other economic prospects in the rapidly-industrialising Rhodesian economy. Job reservation provided unlimited opportunities for white immigrants who could live “a privileged, comfortable life.”14

Economic depression in the Central African Federation from 1956 to 1958, and the rise of militant African nationalism, led to a decline in white immigration. This decline continued in the 1960s when economic sanctions were imposed on Rhodesia after its unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) in November 1965. Escalating military clashes between the regime and nationalist liberation forces made the country unattractive as a destination for European migrants. However, some immigrants entered the country fleeing black rule in African countries such as Kenya, Zambia and the Congo. The country also received large numbers of immigrants from Mozambique and Angola in 1975 following the end of Portuguese colonial rule in those countries.

Throughout the twentieth century, foreign-born whites outnumbered those born in the country (Table 2.2). The dominance of immigration over natural increase was still evident as late as 1969 when approximately 59 percent of the white population were foreign-born. Of these, over 55 percent arrived after World War Two (Table 2.3).15

Table 2.2: White Population by Country of Birth, 1901-1956

Year

% Zimbabwe

% South Africa

% UK/Eire

% Other

1901

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

1904

10.1

27.3

44.4

18.2

1911

13.6

30.7

40.9

14.8

1921

24.7

34.6

31.4

9.3

1926

29.1

32.6

29.2

9.1

1931

29.2

34.5

27.1

9.2

1936

34.1

32.8

23.8

9.3

1941

34.1

27.9

26.4

11.6

1946

37.7

26.4

18.3

17.6

1951

31.4

30.4

28.8

9.4

1956

32.5

28.9

28.1

10.5

Source: A. Rogers and C. Frantz, Racial Themes in Zimbabwe: The Attitudes and Behaviour of the White Population (New Haven: Yale University, 1962), p. 14.

Table 2.3: White Population by Country of Birth, 1969

Place of Birth

No.

%

Rhodesia

92,934

40.7

Britain

52,468

23.0

South Africa

49,585

21.7

Portugal

3,206

1.4

Elsewhere

30,103

13.2

N= 228,296

Source: Southern Africa: Immigration from Britain, A Fact Paper by the International Defence and Aid fund (London: IDAF, 1975), p. 17.

Until 1961, net migration consistently outnumbered natural increase (Table 2.4). One reason for the slow increase of the locally-born white population, at least in the early period, was the paucity of white women in the country. Until 1911, the gap between the sexes was very wide. Thereafter it narrowed as more vigorous efforts were made to attract female immigrants. The percentage of white women in the country rose from 34 percent to 44 percent between 1911 and 1921. Increasingly, the white population began to resemble that of older settler societies (Table 2.5).16

Table 2.4: White Net Migration and Natural Increase, 1901-1969

Period

Net Migration

Natural Increase

Total Increase

1901-1911

11,083

1,491

12,574

1911-1921

5,835

4,179

10,014

1921-1931

10,145

6,145

16,290

1931-1941

11,025

9,019

19,044

1941-1951

50,066

16,576

66,642

1951-1961

47,097

38,811

85,908

1961-1969

(-) 13,914

20,706

6,792

Source: Census of Population, 1969, p. 3.

Table 2.5: White Population Sex Ratio, 1901-1956

Year

Sex Ratio (Male:Female x 100)

1901

278

1904

246

1911

194

1921

130

1926

126

1931

120

1936

116

1941

113

1946

116

1951

111

1956

107

Source: Rogers and Frantz, Racial Themes in Southern Rhodesia, p. 15.

Table 2.6: Racial Composition of Population, 1911-1951

Year

White

Asian

“Coloured”

Black*

1911

23,730

880

2,040

752,000

1920

32,620

1,210

2,000

850,000

1930

47,910

1,660

2,360

1,048,000

1940

65,000

2,480

3,800

1,390,000

1947

88,000

3,090

4,750

1,781,000

1948

101,000

3,280

4,880

1,833,000

1949

114,000

3,400

5,000

1,895,000

1950

125,000

3,600

5,200

1,957,000

1951

136,017

4,343

5,964

2,000,000

* These were estimates based on periodic population counts. The first comprehensive census of the African population was not until 1962, although limited sample surveys were taken in 1948, 1953 and 1955.

Source: Southern Rhodesia, Central Statistical Office, Official Yearbook of Southern Rhodesia (Salisbury: Rhodesia Printing and Publishing Company, 1952), p. 130.

Because natural population growth was slow and immigration flows were limited by highly selective government immigration policies, the white population was increasingly outstripped by the African population so that the dream of developing Rhodesia as a white man’s colony remained unfulfilled (Table 2.6).

A prominent feature of the history of white migration was its high turnover rate. For every ten immigrants who entered the country between 1921 and 1926, seven left.17 Between 1926 and 1931, the ratio was 5:3 and between 1931 and 1936, 9:7. An analysis of net migration between 1921 and 1964 shows that, in this period, Rhodesia received a total of 236,330 white immigrants but lost 159,215, or 67 percent, through emigration (Table 2.7).

Table 2.7: Net White Migration, 1921-1964

Period

Immigrants

Emigrants

Net Migration

1921-26

9,400

6,676

+ 2,724

1926-31

20,000

12,685

+ 7,421

1931-36

9,000

7,058

+ 2,032

1941-46

8,250

6,192

+ 2,058

1946-51

64,634

17,447

+ 47,187

1955-59

74,000

39,000

+ 35,000

1960-64

38,000

63,000

- 25,000

Source: Census of Population, 1969, p. 168.

White emigration increased during the UDI years as the economic and political situation deteriorated and the military conflict between the regime and nationalist liberation forces intensified. In the first few years of UDI, however, the country actually recorded net migration gains, partly as a result of concerted campaigns by the Rhodesian government to woo immigrants through vigorous propaganda campaigning in Europe, travel subsidies, and the provision of housing, tax relief and customs concessions, among other incentives. Immigrants were also attracted by job opportunities as the beleaguered Rhodesian economy adopted import substitution industrialisation strategies that created career openings for skilled workers in the country’s expanding manufacturing sector.18

The inflow of white immigrants into the country might have been larger had successive Rhodesian governments not been very selective about the type of immigrants that they would accept. Determined to allow in only the “right type” of immigrant, by which they meant British immigrants, the government discouraged other nationalities and ethnic groups from migrating to the country. Of the 33,620 whites in Rhodesia in 1921, 32,203 were British by birth or naturalization. By 1931, British settlers accounted for 92 percent of the white population. Similarly, the majority of immigrants during the immediate post-War period were British born and nearly half migrated directly from Britain to Rhodesia.19

So determined were the Rhodesian authorities to maintain the “Britishness” of the country, that they passed the Aliens Act in 1946. The Act established a quota system under which non-British immigrants were allowed into the country at the rate of only five to ten percent of British immigrants and subject to the control of an immigrants’ selection board which would maintain the “right standards.”20 As late as 1957, a Government Economic Advisory Council’s report on immigration endorsed the long-standing policy of giving preference to immigrants from the United Kingdom “because of the importance of preserving the British way of life.”21

Throughout the period under study, therefore, the immigration of non-British whites was kept to a minimum. Afrikaners remained generally suspect and unwelcome.22 A strong anti-Semitic undercurrent ensured that Jewish immigration was also tightly controlled, despite the fact that Rhodes himself had been very partial towards Jewish immigration.23 Other groups such as Poles, Greeks, Italians and Spaniards fared no better.24

Despite such attitudes and restrictions, the number of non-British immigrants did increase slightly in the 1930s and during World War Two. By 1946, there was a sizeable Italian population in the country. Other non-British groups that entered in the war years included Germans, Poles, Greeks, Americans, Lithuanians, Swiss, Yugoslavians, Czechoslovakians and Swedes. But collectively, they remained a small minority compared to the largely British white population in the country.25 After UDI, however, the widely-ostracised and reviled Smith government was glad to accept any white people who wished to enter the country. While building the country as a British settlement remained the ideal, Afrikaners, Greeks, Italians, Portuguese and other European ethnic groups were now welcomed.26

As for Indians, laws were enacted early in the century to limit their entry.27 Indian immigration was repeatedly discouraged, starting with the immigration law of 1903, followed by legal restrictions in 1924 and, lastly, in 1963. Because of these measures, the Asian population never constituted more than 2 percent of the total population of the country.

The country recorded a net gain from migration of 47,121 whites, Asians and “coloureds” in the 10 years following the declaration of UDI.28 By the mid 1970s, however, white emigration began to increase. For a brief period following the independence of Mozambique and Angola in 1975, there was a sudden surge of immigration when an estimated 25,000 whites fled the Portuguese territories to Rhodesia.29 But the escalating guerrilla campaign and growing economic hardships as a result of tightening international economic sanctions made Rhodesia an increasingly unattractive place to live. In 1976, the country recorded a net white migration loss of 7,702, while in 1978, 13,709 whites left the country, many of them skilled professionals whose services were essential to the country’s economy.30 In a bid to stem the outgoing tide, the Rhodesian authorities reduced holiday allowances in September 1976 to prevent intending emigrants using them as a cover to repatriate their capital. Despite this measure, emigration continued to swell (Table 2.8).

Table 2.8: Net White Migration, 1972-1979

Year

Immigrants

Emigrants

Net Migration

1972

13,966

5,150

+ 8,816

1973

9,433

7,750

+ 1,683

1974

9,649

9,050

+ 599

1975

12,425

10,500

+ 1,925

1976

7,782

14,854

- 7,072

1977

5,730

16,638

- 10,908

1978

4,360

18,069

- 13,709

1979

3,416

12,973

- 9,557

Source: Monthly Migration and Tourist Statistics (Salisbury: Central Statistical Office, 1972-1979); Annual Reports of the Commissioner of the British South African Police, 1972-1979.

High levels of white emigration continued into the independence period. An estimated 20,534 people, mostly whites, left the country in 1981, fleeing the incoming black government. Between 1980 and 1984, net migration losses exceeded 10,000 annually despite the fact that there were many black Zimbabweans returning from exile.31 By 1987, there were only 110,000 whites left, approximately half of the white population in 1980.

MIGRANT LABOUR TO ZIMBABWE

Labour migrancy in Southern Africa dates back to the 1850s with the development of the sugar plantations of Natal. Thereafter, it intensified with the discovery of diamonds at Kimberley in 1870 and gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886. The uneven development of capitalism in Southern Africa, with its emerging mining and agricultural economic centres in South Africa in the nineteenth century and Zimbabwe in the twentieth, led to new forms of migration, as workers from neighbouring countries migrated in search of work. These “southernmost centres, where capital was best developed and entrenched, each in turn fed off the less developed northern periphery for part of its labour supplies.”32

Labour migrancy linked the various countries and colonies in the sub-region into one large labour market, with various countries sending and receiving migrants.33 Sub-regional labour migration was facilitated by a number of factors including the very porous borders that made it easy for work-seekers to travel to mining centres and plantations in Zimbabwe and South Africa. In this regional migration network, Zimbabwe played a dual role as both a receiver of migrant labourers from its neighbours and as a supplier of migrant labour to South Africa. Sometimes it was used merely as a conduit by migrant labourers from Malawi and Zambia en route to South Africa who would work in Zimbabwe for a while to earn enough to finance their journey southward and then move on.

The country’s expanding agricultural sector and mining industry required abundant cheap labour which, for a variety of reasons, was not available locally in sufficient quantities despite colonial efforts to coerce Africans, through taxation, to sell their labour power. Local Africans were reluctant to work on the mines and farms, partly because they were still able to produce agricultural surpluses and meet their increasing tax obligations to the colonial state. The colonial authorities resorted to coerced labour (or chibaro) to try to obtain the labour they required.34

The general reluctance of local Africans to enter the colonial labour market led to growing reliance on foreign migrant workers. They dominated the wage labour market in the early colonial years, not just on the mines and farms, but also in the urban centres. The early colonial labour shortfall was met through the recruitment of African labour from neighbouring territories, with the main recruiting grounds being Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique. Rhodesian mine owners also experimented with recruiting Aandab, Abyssinian, Somali and Chinese migrant labour without much success.35 Foreign migrant labour became increasingly important in the Rhodesian economy before 1910 (Table 2.9).

Table 2.9: Africans Employed in Mining, 1906-10

Year

Mining

Other

 

Local

Foreign

Total

Local

Foreign

Total

1906

6,345

11,359

17,704

 

 

 

1907

7,673

17,937

25,610

 

 

 

1908

10,368

20,563

30,931

 

 

 

1909

10,689

21,948

32,637

14,518

11,425

25,943

1910

12,739

25,086

37,825

15,962

13,548

29,510

Source: Report of the Native Affairs Committee of Enquiry, 1910-11 (Southern Rhodesia Government, 1911), para. 214.

Between 1903 and 1933, a government agency, the Rhodesia Native Labour Bureau (RNLB), recruited foreign labour and supplied an average of 13,000 workers to employers each year.36 Many other workers migrated on their own, outside the auspices of the RNLB and other agencies. Indeed, the majority of labour migrants probably made their own way to Zimbabwe under the so-called selufu (self/independent) system.37 They did so through dangerous territory and at great personal risk.38 By 1912, there were 10,000 Malawian workers in Zimbabwe, accounting for 35 percent of the country’s entire African mine labour force of 48,000.39 They were soon to displace the Tonga and Ngoni people from Zambia and workers from the Tete area of Mozambique who had, until then, been the largest group of migrant workers.40 From 1920 onwards, Malawian migrant workers “exceeded even Southern Rhodesian Africans.”41

Meanwhile, the colonial state assisted employers to secure labour by concluding labour agreements with Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi. These included the Tete Agreement of 1913 with Mozambique and the Tripartite Labour Agreement of 1937 with Malawi and Zambia. Malawian labour migration was boosted by the introduction of a free transport service for migrant workers in 1927.42 The Free Migrant Labour Transport Service (popularly known among Malawian migrant workers as “Ulere”) enabled workers to travel to and from Zimbabwe free of charge and provided them with free rations and accommodation.43 Until the end of World War Two, Malawian immigrants were in the majority in Salisbury (Table 2.10) and the rest of the country (where they accounted for between 35 and 50 percent of all migrant workers).44 Inner Salisbury was dominated by “foreign” Africans, as the local Shona inhabitants preferred to remain on the outskirts of the growing colonial town to produce agricultural commodities that they sold to the urban population to raise the income they that required to meet growing colonial tax demands.45

Table 2.10: African Population by Nationality, Salisbury, 1911-1969

Origin

1911

1921

1931

1936

1941

1946

1951

1962

1969

Local

2,052 (49%)

3,346(41%)

6,406(49%)

9,550(55%)

12,935(49%)

15,810 (44%)

30,958(41%)

154,80 (72%)

231,980(83%)

Malawi

-

3,219(40%)

4,637(36%)

5,406 (31%)

7,665(29%)

9,509(26%)

16,399(22%)

41,530 (19%)

28,830(10%)

Zambia

1,155 (28%)

366(4%)

791(6%)

774(4%)

935(4%)

1,355(4%)

2,339(3%)

4,800(2%)

2,770(1%)

Mozambique

879(21%)

1,149(14%)

1,008(8%)

1,612(9%)

4,665(18%)

9,486(26%)

25,367(34%)

13,350(6%)

13,460(5%)

South Africa & Others

70(2%)

59(1%)

161(1%)

119(1%)

161

198

425

1,260(1%)

1,870(1%)

Unspecifed

66

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1,180

Total

4,222

8,139

13,003

17,461

26,361

36,358

75,488

215,810

280,090

Source: T. Yoshikuni, African Urban Experiences in Colonial Zimbabwe: A Social History of Harare Before 1925 (Harare: Weaver Press, 2007), p. 160.

In 1946, the government established the Rhodesia Native Labour Supply Commission (RNLSC) to recruit foreign workers for the country’s farming sector. The RNLSC imported an average of 14,000 workers per year from 1946 to 1971.46 Migrant labour inflows were further encouraged during the Central African Federation from 1953 to 1963 when Malawian migrants coming into Zimbabwe were allowed to bring their families with them. Others were allowed to settle in Zimbabwe after a stipulated period of service. An estimated 150,000 Malawians and Zambians took this opportunity to settle in the country.47 In 1958, an estimated 123,000 Malawian men, out of a total of 169,000 then outside the country, were in Zimbabwe.48

The number of male labour migrants from Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique continued to increase (Table 2.11). By the 1950s, they were well-represented in all sectors of the economy (Table 2.12). With the exception of commercial agriculture, there were few female migrants from these countries. Foreign workers continued to be very significant in that sector until the 1970s (Table 2.13). Of approximately 890,000 Africans employed in the economy in 1973, about 200,000 were foreign-born.49 The majority of foreign workers continued to be Malawian, accounting for 20.2 percent of male agricultural workers in 1972. Mozambicans were next. 50

Table 2.11: Origin of African Male Employees in Zimbabwe, 1911-1951

Year

Zimbabwe

Zambia

Malawi

Mozambique

Other Territories

Total

1911

35,933

17,012

12,281

13,588

5,341

84,155

1921

52,691

31,201

44,702

17,198

1,524

147,316

1926

73,233

35,431

43,020

13,068

2,218

171,970

1931

76,184

35,542

49,487

14,896

2,983

179,092

1936

107,581

46,884

70,362

25,215

2,440

252,482

1941

131,404

48,163

71,505

45,970

2,468

299,510

1946

160,932

45,413

80,480

72,120

4,399

363,344

1951

241,683

48,514

86,287

101,618

10,353

488,455

Source: P. Scott, “Migrant Labor in Southern Rhodesia,” Geographical Review, 44 (1), 1954, p. 31.

Table 2.12: Foreign Workers in Zimbabwe, 1956

Sector

Zambia

Malawi

Mozambique

M

F

M

F

M

F

Mining

9,718

63

15,976

91

11,579

44

Commercial Farming

12,218

1,027

57,226

4,315

54,896

8,441

Manufacturing

5,762

154

14,694

326

13,050

201

Construction

4,478

2

10,435

12

14,870

7

Services

704

0

1,694

0

1,411

2

Commerce

1,380

17

4,567

17

3,599

7

Transport

1,801

0

3,316

13

2,517

2

Domestic Work

4,847

127

19,534

284

16,281

28

Total

40,908

1,390

127,442

5,058

118,203

8,732

Source: J. Crush, V. Williams and S. Peberdy, “Migration in Southern Africa,” Report for SAMP (Cape Town, 2005), p.4.

Table 2.13: Foreign Workers in Commercial Agriculture, 1941-74

Year

No.

% of Total Employment

1941

56,083

-

1946

84,089

56

1951

114,878

62

1956

137,030

60

1961

135,330

50

1969

130,235

43

1970

114,693

39

1971

119,275

39

1972

120,964

36

1973

118,000

34

1974

119,000

33

Source: D. Clarke, Agricultural and Plantation Workers in Rhodesia (Gweru: Mambo Press, 1977), p. 31.

MIGRANT LABOUR TO SOUTH AFRICA

By 1911, the South African gold mines had become the major regional employer of migrant labour.51 Mine labour recruitment was mainly handled by the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association (WNLA) in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique and the Native Recruiting Corporation (NRC) in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. Zimbabwe contributed to the South African mines’ labour complement, although its numbers were never as large as those of the other countries in which the WNLA and NRC operated.

Table 2.14: Contract Labour Migration to South African Mines, 1920-90

Year

Angola

Bots.

Les.

Malawi

Moz.

Swaz.

Tanz.

Zambia

Zimbabwe

Other

Total

1920

0

2,112

10,439

354

77,921

3,449

0

12

179

5,844

99,950

1925

0

2,547

14,256

136

73,210

3,999

0

4

8

14

94,234

1930

0

3,151

22,306

0

77,828

4,345

183

0

44

5

99,355

1935

0

7,505

34,788

49

62,576

6,865

109

570

27

9

112,498

1940

698

14,427

52,044

8,037

74,693

7,152

0

2,725

8,112

0

168,058

1945

8,711

10,102

36,414

4,973

78,588

5,688

1,461

27

8,301

4,732

158,967

1950

9,767

12,390

34,467

7,831

86,246

6,619

5,495

3,102

2,073

4,826

172,816

1955

8,801

14,195

36,332

12,407

99,449

6,682

8,758

3,849

162

2,299

192,934

1960

12,364

21,404

48,842

21,934

101,733

6,623

14,025

5,292

747

844

233,808

1965

11,169

23,630

54,819

38,580

89,191

5,580

404

5,898

653

2,686

232,610

1970

4,125

20,461

63,988

78,492

93,203

6,269

0

0

3

972

265,143

1975

3,431

20,291

78,114

27,904

97,216

8,391

0

0

2,485

12

220,293

1980

5

17,763

96,309

13,569

39,539

8,090

0

0

5,770

1,404

182,449

1985

1

18,079

97,639

16,849

50,126

12,365

0

0

0

4

196,068

1990

0

15,720

108,780

72

50,104

17,816

0

0

2

0

192,044

Source: J. Crush, A. Jeeves and D. Yudelman. South Africa’s Labor Empire (Boulder: Westview Press, 1991), pp. 234-235.

Over time, labour migration to the mines became entrenched in parts of Zimbabwe, particularly Matabeleland and the eastern part of the country. It became almost a rite of passage for young men to go kuWenela (with WNLA to the South African mines) to raise cash to meet colonial tax requirements at home and to earn money for lobola (bridewealth) to enable them to settle down and start their own families.52 So important did the Wenela experience and anticipated economic rewards become that young men risked their lives, walking for weeks through lion-infested country, spending nights tied to branches in trees to escape the ravages of wild animals, and braving the crocodile-infested Limpopo River, to get to the mines. As recently as the 1960s, among the Ndau of eastern Zimbabwe, those who had spent time in South Africa were known as Magaisa, highly respected as men of substance, especially when they returned after many years of absence with money and valuable goods.

Similarly, in southwestern Zimbabwe, going to work in Egoli (Johannesburg) became a virtual rite of passage for young Ndebele men. The people of Matebeleland had always had close ties with South Africa, given the Nguni origins of the Ndebele people in that country. Moreover, the similarity of the Ndebele language of Zimbabwe with some South African languages, such as Zulu and South African Ndebele, also meant that migrants could easily blend in once they were on the mines or on the farms. However, Zimbabwean workers were still a small minority of contract labourers on the South African mines between 1920 and 1990 (Table 2.14).

Table 2.15: Foreign Black Workers Employed Legally in South Africa

Country of Origin

1975

1980

1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

Angola

623

804

69

120

68

48

44

22

Botswana

3,016

29,528

29,169

26,262

25,963

26,439

27,814

28,244

Lesotho

152,188

136,395

150,422

140,719

145,791

136,443

139,827

138,193

Malawi

39,308

31,772

30,602

27,558

29,612

29,268

30,144

31,411

Mozambique

150,738

60,490

59,391

59,323

61,218

60,407

68,665

73,186

Swaziland

16,390

11,981

13,418

13,659

16,773

16,823

22,255

21,914

Zambia

914

914

727

787

743

1,274

833

2,421

Zimbabwe

8,897

20,540

16,965

11,332

7,742

7,492

7,428

7,304

Other

8,512

3,102

995

2,512

71,105

71,072

73,998

75,430

Total

414,586

295,026

301,758

282,272

358,021

351,260

271,008

378,125

Source: E. Leistner and P. Esterhuysen, eds., South Africa in Southern Africa: Economic Interaction (Pretoria: African Institute of South Africa, 1988), p. 125.

Zimbabwean labour migrancy to South Africa increased considerably in the 1970s. The South African mines targeted Zimbabwean workers when supplies from the traditional source of Malawi temporarily dried up. This followed a disagreement between the South African and Malawian governments, after a plane accident in Botswana killed over 70 Malawian migrant workers. As a result, there were well over 20,000 black Zimbabweans working in South Africa’s mines in the 1970s, with a peak of 37,900 in 1977.53 In 1981, the independent Zimbabwean government ended the migrant labour system to South Africa’s mines. However, around 7,000 Zimbabweans were still working legally in other sectors in South Africa for most of the 1980s (Table 2.15).

MIGRATION AND THE THIRTY YEAR WAR

Migration in the sub-continent was also fuelled by the region’s liberation struggles that raged from the 1960s and ended with the political transition in South Africa in 1994. The wars generated a large number of refugees from the conflict countries of Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa to neighbouring states, especially Zambia, Zaire and Tanzania. Angolan refugees tended to flee to Zaire and Zambia, while South African and Zimbabwean refugees went to Zambia and Tanzania and, after the defeat of Portuguese colonialism in 1975, to Mozambique. In 1975, for example, an estimated 15,000 Zimbabwean refugees entered Mozambique.54 By 1976, 70,000 Zimbabwean refugees had crossed the border.55 The number rose to 150,000 by 1979.56 Many Zimbabwean refugees also went to Tanzania and Lesotho. By 1980, approximately 1.4 million people had been displaced by the war. Of these, 228,000 were in the neighbouring countries of Mozambique (160,000), Zambia (45,000), and Botswana (23,000).57

Following the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement in 1979, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was invited to coordinate the repatriation and resettlement of Zimbabweans who had taken refuge in neighbouring countries and to arrange the resettlement of internally displaced people who were living either in “protected villages,” or in urban areas. The total number of returnees and internally-displaced persons in need of immediate assistance was estimated at 660,000. The repatriation was carried out in two phases starting in January 1980. By 31 December 1980, 72,000 refugees had been brought back into the country under this programme. At the same time, an unknown number of refugees made their own way back from Mozambique.58 While most refugees had been repatriated to Zimbabwe by the end of 1981, a number continued to trickle back into the country throughout the first independence decade and may have contributed to the numbers of “returning residents” (Table 2.16).

Table 2.16: Immigrants to Zimbabwe by Category, 1978-1987

Year

Returning Residents (%)

Temporary Residents (%)

New Immigrants (%)

Total (%)

Total Number

1978

35.5

6.5

58.0

100.0

4,650

1979

44.3

6.7

49.0

100.0

3,649

1980

38.4

5.9

55.7

100.0

6,407

1981

29.0

4.1

66.9

100.0

7,794

1982

19.5

2.4

78.1

100.0

7,715

1983

17.9

29.9

52.2

100.0

6,944

1984

13.0

58.5

28.5

100.0

5,567

1985

23.3

51.8

24.9

100.0

5,471

1986

22.3

37.8

39.9

100.0

4,452

1987

13.4

41.4

45.2

100.0

3,925

Source: L. Zinyama, “International Migration to and from Zimbabwe and Influence of Political Changes on Population Movements, 1965-1987” International Migration Review 24(4) (1990): 748-67.

The 1980s witnessed two waves of out-migration, mostly to South Africa. The first was the exodus of whites fleeing black rule.59 The second migration wave, as yet unquantified, was the movement of thousands of Ndebele people from the southwestern part of the country into South Africa and Botswana to escape the Gukurahundi massacres of the early 1980s when the Zimbabwean government’s Korean-trained 5th Brigade brought terror to Matebeleland in its effort to put down anti-government rebels labelled by the government as “dissidents.”60

Continuing its traditional role as both a receiver and a sender of migrants, Zimbabwe also played host to many refugees from Mozambique and South Africa during its first independence decade. Mozambican refugees were fleeing from that country’s South Africa backed fratricidal war between the ruling Party, FRELIMO, and the Mozambican Resistance Movement (RENAMO) that broke out soon after independence in 1975. Thousands of Mozambicans sought refuge in South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. By October 1992, when the two warring parties signed a peace agreement, an estimated 4.5 million Mozambicans had left the country as refugees and around 140,000 were in Zimbabwe. This may be an underestimate since there were probably another 100,000 unregistered refugees living outside the official camps.

CONCLUSION

Migration has clearly been an important part of the history of Zimbabwe since early times. From the arrival of the Bantu during the Iron Age, through the Mfecane/Difaqane and the subsequent period of white immigration and inward and outward labour migrancy, groups of people have moved into and out of Zimbabwe for a variety of reasons. Population movement and labour migration between Zimbabwe and its neighbours has been a constant feature of the region’s history. As in the past, labour continues to migrate from one country to another in search of better opportunities. South Africa, continues to attract migrants from the rest of the region.

There are, however, some notable differences in the population flows now as compared to the past. For instance, the volume of migration is presently much higher than in the past, especially from Zimbabwe to South Africa, as political and economic problems in the home country force many people to migrate to escape hardships at home and to seek better economic conditions. Thus, what had been a trickle in the past has become a virtual flood, with many risking life and limb crossing the Limpopo River and entering the country without proper documentation in their determination to find greener pastures.

Another significant difference is the fact that, while in the past, migrants were mostly labourers seeking jobs in the region’s mining and agricultural sectors, current migration includes growing numbers of highly qualified professionals, including medical doctors, engineers, academics, nurses, pharmacists and teachers, who are also leaving Zimbabwe because of unfavourable economic and other factors. Lastly, unlike the past when migrants were mostly male, women now comprise a sizeable and growing percentage of migrants, with many criss-crossing regional boundaries as cross-border traders.

Thus, there are clearly differences in the composition, numbers and types of migrants between the past and the present. What the history of Zimbabwe teaches, however, is that no movement or trend is permanent. While Zimbabwe has, in the last two decades, become a country of major out-migration, this is not its “natural” migration state. As soon as the forces propelling this unprecedented out-migration are reversed, there is every likelihood that Zimbabwe will attract back many of those who have left, becoming once again a country of both origin and destination.

NOTES

1 Modern names for countries in the region are used throughout the chapter, except where their use might cause confusion.

2 J. Omer-Cooper, The Zulu Aftermath: A Nineteenth Century Revolution in Bantu Africa (London: Longman, 1966); A. Smith, “The Trade of Delagoa Bay as a Factor in Nguni Politics 1750-1835” in L. Thompson, (ed.), African Societies in Southern Africa (London: Heine-mann, 1969), pp. 171-89; J. Pieres, (ed.), Before and After Shaka: Papers in Nguni History (Grahamstown: Institute of Social and Economic Research, Rhodes University, 1981); J. Cobbing, “The Mfecane as Alibi: Thoughts on Dithakong and Mbolompo” Journal of African History 29(3) (1988): 487-519; J. Omer-Cooper, “Has the Mfecane a Future? A Response to the Cobbing Critique” Journal of Southern African Studies 19(2) (1993): 273-94.

3 This section of the chapter draws on A. Mlambo, White Immigration into Rhodesia: From Occupation to Federation (Harare: University of Zimbabwe Publishers, 2000).

4 A. Keppel-Jones, Rhodes and Rhodesia: The White Conquest of Zimbabwe, 1884-1902 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1983).

5 R. Roberts, “The Settlers” Rhodesiana 29 (1979): 55-61.

6 B. Schutz, “European Population Patterns, Cultural Resistance and Political Change in Rhodesa” Canadian Journal of African Studies 7(1) (1973), p. 7.

7 I. Henderson, “White Populism in Southern Rhodesia” Comparative Studies in Society and History 14(4) (1972): 387-99.

8 D. Clarke, Agricultural and Plantation Workers in Rhodesia (Gweru: Mambo Press, 1977), p. 16.

9 E. Tawse Jolie, “The Chartered Company in Rhodesia,” The British South Africa Company Historical Catalogue & Souvenir of Rhodesia Empire Exhibition, Johannesburg, 1936-37 [www.tokencoins.com/bbp.htm].

10 Ibid.

11 Rhodesia, Official Yearbook (Salisbury: CSO, 1924), p. 37.

12 Schutz, “European Population Patterns” p. 16.

13 R. Palmer and I. Birch, Zimbabwe: A Land Divided (Oxford: Oxfam, 1992), p. 8.

14 Schutz, “European Population Patterns” p. 16.

15 Mlambo, White Immigration, p. 2.

16 Schutz, “European Population Patterns,” p. 8. See also, Mlambo, White Immigration, pp. 8-9.

17 Rhodesia, Census of Population of Zimbabwe Pt. 1 (Salisbury: CSO, 1941), p. 5.

18 L. Zinyama, “International Migration to and from Zimbabwe and the Influence of Political Changes on Population Movements”International Migration Review 24(4) (1990): 748-67.

19 Schutz, “European Population Patterns” p. 17.

20 Ibid., p. 16.

21 National Archives of Zimbabwe, F170/18, Report on Immigration Policy by the Economic Advisory Council, 1957.

22 For Rhodesian Attitudes to Afrikaners, see R. Hodder-Williams, “Afrikaners in Rhodesia: A Partial Portrait” African Social Research 18 (1974): 611-42.

23 See M. Gelfand, ed., Godfrey Huggins: Viscount Malvern, 1883-1971- His Life and Work (Salisbury: Central African Journal of Medicine, n.d.), p. 39; F. Clements, Rhodesia: The Course to Collision (London: Pall Mall Press, 1939), p. 43; B. Kosmin, “A Comparative Historical Population Study: The Development of Southern Rhodesian Jewry, 1890-1936”, Henderson Seminar Paper, No. 17, University of Zimbabwe, November, 1971; B. Kosmin, “Ethnic Groups and the Qualified Franchise in Southern Rhodesia, 1898-1922” Rhodesian History 8 (1977): 33-70; B. Kosmin, Majuta: A History of the Jewish Community in Zimbabwe (Gweru: Mambo Press, 1980).

24 For a discussion of Rhodesian attitudes to other non-British immigrant groups, see Mlambo, White Immigration, pp. 64-7.

25 Ibid., p. 12.

26 Ibid., p. 20.

27 Ibid.

28 Ibid.

29 Ibid.

30 Rhodesian Government, Monthly Migration and Tourist Statistics (Salisbury: CSO, 1972-1979); M. Sinclair, “The Brain Drain from Zimbabwe to Canada: The Issue of Compensation Payments” Issue: Journal of Opinion 9(4) (1979): 41-3.

31 Zinyama, “International Migration to and from Zimbabwe.”

32 C. van Onselen, Chibaro: African Mine Labour in Southern Rhodesia, 1900-1933 (Johannesburg: Ravan Press, 1976), p. 120.

33 J. Crush, V. Williams, and S. Perbedy, “Migration in Southern Africa,” Paper prepared for the Global Commission on International Migration Policy Analysis and Research Program (September 2005), p. 1.

34 van Onselen, Chibaro.

35 Ibid., pp. 81-83.

36 Ibid., p. 25.

37 W. Chirwa, “‘TEBA is Power’: Rural Labour, Migrancy and Fishing in Malawi, 1890s -1985” PhD Thesis, Queens University, 1992, pp. 133-4.

38 E. Makambe, “The Nyasaland African Labour ‘Ulendos’ to Southern Rhodesia and the Problem of the African ‘Highwaymen’, 1903-1923: A Study in the Limitations of Early Independent Labour Migration” African Affairs 79(317) (1980): 548–66.

39 van Onselen, Chibaro, p. 122.

40 Scott, “Migrant Labor in Southern Rhodesia,” p. 32.

41 F. Sanderson, “The Development of Labour Migration from Nyasaland, 1891-1914” Journal of African History 2 (1961): 259-71.

42 Clarke, Agricultural and Plantation Workers in Rhodesia, p.

43 Scott, “Migrant Labor in Southern Rhodesia,” p. 36.

44 Ibid., p. 32.

45 T. Yoshikuni, African Urban Experiences in Colonial Zimbabwe: A Social History of Harare before 1925 (Harare: Weaver Press, 2007), p. 162.

46 J. Chadya and P. Mayavo, “‘The Curse of Old Age:’ Elderly Workers on Zimbabwe’s Large-Scale Commercial Farms, with Particular Reference to ‘Foreign’ Farm Labourers up to 2000” Zambezi XIX (i) (2002): 12-26.

47 F. Wilson, “International Migration in Southern Africa” International Migration Review 10(4) (1976): 451-88.

48 A. Hanna, The Story of the Rhodesias & Malawi (London: Faber & Faber, 1960), p. 230.

49 Wilson, “International Migration” p. 461.

50 Clarke, Agricultural and Plantation Workers in Rhodesia, p. 32.

51 C. Feinstein, An Economic History of South Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 63.

52 The author’s own father and his three young brothers all spent time working on the mines before they started families upon their return.

53 Zinyama, “International Migration to and from Zimbabwe.”

54 A. Adepoju, “The Dimension of the Refugee Problem in Africa” African Affairs 81(322) (1982), p 9; D. Knight, Refugees: Africa’s Challenge (London: Christian Aid, 1978).

55 N. Shamuyarira, “Liberation Movements in Southern Africa,” Presented at the Eighth Annual Hans Wolff Memorial Lecture, Dar-es-Salaam, April 1977.

56 Adepoju, “Dimension of the Refugee Problem,” p. 29.

57 Economist Intelligence Unit, Special Report No. 111: Zimbabwe’s First Five Years, Economic Prospects Following Independence (London, EIU, 1981), pp. 15-16.

58 UNHCR, Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (New York: United Nations, 1981).

59 D. Tevera and J. Crush, “The New Brain Drain from Zimbabwe” SAMP Migration Policy Series No 29, Cape Town, 2003, p. 6.

60 For a detailed account of the Gukurahundi massacres, see Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace/Legal Resources Foundation, Breaking the Silence, Building True Peace: A Report on the Disturbances in Matebeleland and the Midlands, 1980 to 1998 (Harare: CCJP/LRF, 1997).

WHEN THINGS GO BAD

I’m from Gweru. A few years back I moved to work at a big hotel in Victoria Falls. I was the Head Waiter. But when things started to go bad, they cut our hours back to where my rent was higher than my pay. I quit, went back to Gweru and tried to be a cross-border trader. That was really uncertain because so many others were also doing that. Inflation kept going higher and higher and the dollar was worth less everyday. I was trying to support my wife and three kids and also my mother. Often there wasn’t enough for school fees or sometimes even for food. So my wife and I decided that she would stay there with the kids and I would go to South Africa to look for work. The name “South Africa” was on everybody’s lips.

I crossed at the border OK because I was on a Malawi passport, even though I have lived in Zimbabwe all my life and my family is there. I came in October of 2006, when I was 36. In Johannesburg, I stayed with a friend from school who is like a brother to me so he and his wife welcomed me to their home. They live very close to East Rand Mall so I went there to look for a job as a waiter. One place hired me but your only pay was tips. If you didn’t have customers there was no pay. You could go for two to three days before you would get a customer and you would get 10% of the bill for the table you served. It was very hard because as a person from Zimbabwe, the other guys gave each other tables first and they would all have at least two tables to serve before you would get any. I only worked there for about ten days and I couldn’t take it any more so I quit.

There was supposed to be a job in Grahamstown at a pizza take-out place so that is where I went next. I was hired to be a manager, but on a low wage and told that eventually my wage would increase. I found all kinds of inefficiencies and within months I had saved the owner lots of money on fuel, wages and in ordering supplies. I started at R2,500 per month and eventually went up to R4,000 a month although if the shop was ever short of stock, he would deduct it from my wages despite all the other employees who worked there. I often worked until 3 a.m. and had to be back at work at 8 a.m. I worked 7 days a week for a year without any holidays or a chance to go and see my family. I also had to pay for any food that I ate at work and I had to pay for my cell phone, which was used for work.

I was robbed twice while trying to make a deposit at the bank. The first time, two thieves kidnapped me, stabbed my hand with a screwdriver and drove me way out of town to a remote area. They had a gun and I thought they were going to kill me. Instead, they took the money, removed the sim card from my phone, and dumped me out in the middle of nowhere. I was so lucky that a white couple picked me up and drove me to the hospital in Grahamstown. The owner was sorry, but he didn’t report this to the police and instead ran it through his insurance. The second time I was robbed right outside the bank before going in.

The police arrested me and the only other Zimbabwean who worked at the pizza store. They held me for four days and nights in jail and beat me so that I suffered a broken rib. At the pizza store, the South African employees lied to the police and tried to blame myself and my friend. I had no money for rent, my accounts were in arrears and my family back home suffered. The first lawyer told me to plead guilty to a crime I didn’t commit so I left him and found another lawyer through legal aid.

My former boss sent me an SMS saying I should pay him and he would drop the case. I phoned a friend in Canada and she said that was blackmail and not to do it. When we finally went to court I was found not guilty and the case was dismissed after eight months of struggling financially and emotionally. Finally I was able to get my passport from the police station and to look once again for other employment.

image

Chapter Three
Internal Migration in Zimbabwe: The Impact of Livelihood Destruction in Rural and Urban Areas

Deborah Potts

The people of Zimbabwe have probably experienced less than two decades of “normality” in relation to the more usual causes of migratory flows in African countries (excluding drought and war). Prior to 1980, the country was under white settler control, and the African population was subject to a vast array of institutionalized controls and constraints on their freedom of movement and settlement in urban areas. These policies were broadly designed to serve the economic and political interests of the white settlers.1 One effect was to reduce the size of the indigenous urban population below the levels that would have occurred in the absence of such restrictions. In the 1960s, for example, the national population was growing annually at around 4 percent (in part caused by immigration), but the two main towns, Salisbury and Bulawayo, grew at only 2.3 percent and 1.7 percent. The proportion of Africans enumerated in towns in 1969 was only 14 percent. In the subsequent decade, as the war of liberation escalated, these restrictions broke down to a large extent and in-migration to towns increased significantly. Some in-migrants were refugees, not all of whom stayed once the war ended and independence was achieved.2

In the earlier decades of the twentieth century there had been extensive internal population displacement as half the country’s land was alienated by whites, leading sometimes to immediate forced displacement of the indigenous land occupiers or their eventual removal when this suited the white farmers. Very often people were moved to already overcrowded rural areas – the so-called “native reserves” – and to areas far less agro-ecologically suited to arable agriculture.3 Prior to 1980 therefore, the experience of coerced migration away from areas of economic opportunity (as well as ancestral rights) was sadly familiar to many African households, as was the prevention of migration into areas of economic and social opportunity.

The influences on internal migration in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 include some factors which confound the normal expectations of migration theory. These “unusual” factors have come into play mainly since 2000, when the state embarked on a programme of so-called fast-track land reform. This led to the almost immediate expropriation of the majority of the country’s large-scale commercial farms, which were still mainly white-owned.4 This not only caused a few thousand white owners and their families to move off the farms but also led to a much larger movement of agricultural workers whose livelihoods were disrupted or destroyed. Then, in 2005, the government embarked on a massive campaign against informal housing and employment in the towns, again destroying the livelihoods of thousands. This led to massive internal movement within the cities themselves, as dislocated people sought replacement accommodation. It also produced significant short-term out-migration from the towns by people who could find no other urban livelihood or accommodation. An important element of this out-migration was coercion by the government, which wished to displace some of the urban residents to rural areas within Zimbabwe.

INTERNAL MIGRATION IN THE 1980s

After 1980, rural-urban migration in Zimbabwe was no longer restricted and came under the same kinds of influences which have affected most other Sub-Saharan African countries since the 1960s. The most significant cause of escalating migration was the difference in economic opportunities and incomes between the towns and the “communal areas” (CAs), as the former reserves were renamed. The new government’s development programmes mirrored, in many respects, the “modernization” programmes that most newly-independent African countries embarked on in the 1960s. They encouraged urban-based economic development as well as a surge in public sector employment to deliver a range of new services (such as health and education) to the African population. The CAs were not neglected, however. They not only enjoyed major improvements in social services but also a roll-out of government-backed agricultural services to encourage production and marketing of peasant crops.5 This resulted in Zimbabwe’s “agricultural revolution” in the 1980s, as peasant output of marketed maize and cotton, from the more agro-ecologically suited CAs in particular, grew rapidly and soon dominated the domestic market.6

Rates of migration to town increased in the 1980s as many rural people moved to take advantage of higher urban incomes and better social facilities. Land shortage remained a major factor in out-migration from the CAs, as it had through the colonial period, as the government land reform programme’s delivery of land purchased at market prices from the commercial sector slowed, after an initial surge facilitated by the availability of abandoned land in the early years.7 Squatting on such land, and encroaching on under-used commercial land, was one factor in rural-rural migration at that time and continued to be an influence into the 1990s, indicating significant land hunger.8

For the urban areas, independence meant much higher annual population growth rates, similar to those in other independent African countries in their first postcolonial decade. The extraordinary rates of in-migration experienced in, for example, Kenya, Nigeria or Zambia, were not replicated in Zimbabwe, however. The national annual urban growth rate from 1982-1992 was 5 percent (Table 3.1), compared to a national rate of 3.3 percent (which was boosted by immigration, particularly refugees from the war in Mozambique.) Natural increase was around 3 percent. Harare, the capital, grew at 6.2 percent; over half of its growth comprised net in-migration. In Bulawayo, the next largest town, net in-migration probably accounted for about a quarter of the growth. A number of other towns also experienced significant growth although many began from a very small base. Of those with populations of at least 20,000 in 1982, of particular note were Mutare, Masvingo, Marondera, Chinhoyi, Gweru and Chitungwiza.9 Other centres, such as Hwange, Zvishavane and Redcliff, did not attract many in-migrants in net terms, or may have experienced some net out-migration. By 1992, the urbanization level was about 31 percent, compared to 26 percent in 1982.

Table 3.1: Urban Population Growth Rates,1982-2002

 

Population (‘000s) 1982

AAGR* 1982-92 %

Population (‘000s) 1992

AAGR* 1992-2002 (%)

NI +2001-02 (%)

Population (‘000s) 2002

Zimbabwe

7,546

3.3

10,412

1.1

1.3

11,632

Total urban

1,962

5.0

3,188

2.4

a

4,030

Harare

656

6.2

1,189

1.9

2.0

1,436

Bulawayo

414

4.1

621

0.8

1.3

677

Chitungwiza

173

4.7

275

1.6

1.9

323

Mutare

70

6.5

131

2.6

2.1

170

Gweru

79

4.7

128

1.0

1.4

141

Epworth

-

-

(est) 50

8.6

2.4

114

KweKwe

48

4.6

75

2.3

1.5

94

Kadoma

45

4.1

68

1.1

1.2

76

Masvingo

31

5.3

52

2.9

1.7

69

Marondera

20

7.2

40

2.9

1.5

52

Chinhoyi

24

6.0

43

1.3

-

49

Norton

12

5.2

20

8.2

-

44

Chegutu

20

4.1

30

3.7

1.3

43

Hwange

39

0.8

42

-1.8

1.6

35

Zvishavane b

27

2.0

33

0.1

1.2

35

Bindura

18

1.6

21

4.9

1.6

34

Victoria Falls

8

7.8

17

6.5

2.1

32

Redcliff

22

3.2

30

0.6

1.4

32

Chiredzi

10

7.7

21

2.2

1.7

26

Ruwa

-

-

1.45

32.4

1.9

24

Kariba

12

5.8

21

1.3

1.8

24

Karoi

9

5.2

15

3.9

-

22

Beitbridge

-

-

12

6.2

-

22

Gokwe

-

-

7

9.9

-

18

Shurugwi b

13

2.1

16

0.6

2.5

17

Rusape

8

4.1

12

3.5

-

17

Gwanda

5

8.2

11

1.7

1.7

13

* Annual Average Growth Rate

+ Natural Increase

a. No data available but since the averaged growth rate (2.4%) exceeds NI for nearly all of the major urban areas, evidently the urban areas experienced net in-migration when taken together.

b. Includes the population of the mining areas.

Source: Compiled from census data in 2002 national and provincial profile reports, supplemented by T. Brinkhoff, “City Population,” 2007, http://www.citypopulation.de; AAGRs calculated from raw data.

In the rural areas, one element of internal migration was officially-sponsored movement to resettlement areas (RAs), the commercial farms bought by the government for land redistribution. By 1992, their population was about 427,000 but just over half of the national population remained in the CAs. The population of the commercial farms was then more than two and a half times that of the RAs (Table 3.2).

In retrospect, the 1980s were a halcyon period for Zimbabwe, with positive average annual per capita GDP growth, a lessening of both rural and urban poverty, and admirable progress in many social indices.10 The growth of formal, urban-based jobs did not keep pace with urban population growth, as in most of Africa, and an informal sector began to develop, albeit on a limited scale compared to most other African cities. The majority of urban in-migrant heads of household, who had moved to town since 1980, had formal sector jobs. Nonetheless, the insecurities of urban life, with virtually no welfare net for the unemployed, elderly or sick, was one reason that most rural-urban migrants eventually planned to leave town and return to the CAs, perhaps after a lifetime of urban work.11 Social and cultural factors also played an important part in such decisions.

Table 3.2: Provincial Population Distribution by Land-Use Category, 1992 and 2002 (‘000s)

Province

Communal lands

Small-scale commercial farms

Large-scale commercial farms

Resettle-ment areas

Urban council areas

Other urban areas

Total Urban

Total Population

Manicaland

92

991

33

202

126

160

16

177

1,537

02

975

21

146

167

216

18

234

1,569

Mashonaland Central

92

503

12

229

33

21

55

76

857

02

616

14

189

73

47

48

94

995

Mashonaland East

92

709

27

170

51

41

15

54

1,034

02

752

31

143

83

84

8

92

1,127

Mashonaland West

92

398

23

335

70

172

100

271

1,113

02

429

20

276

154

265

69

334

1,225

Matabeleland North

92

471

26

20

17

59

22

81

641

02

524

13

30

35

67

14

82

705

Matabeleland South

92

466

8

49

16

28

20

48

592

02

499

8

32

45

46

21

67

653

Midlands

92

865

13

70

56

255

40

295

1,308

02

948

12

73

81

326

20

346

1,464

Masvingo

92

948

27

80

58

78

18

96

1,223

02

919

29

78

161

95

19

115

1,320

Harare

92

-

1

21

-

1,464

-

1,464

1,486

02

-

0.6

21

-

1,873

-

1,873

1,896

Bulawayo

92

-

-

-

-

622

-

622

622

02

-

-

-

-

677

-

677

677

Total

92

5,352

170

1,177

427

2,901

284

3,185

10,413

02

5,661

150

987

800

3,696

218

3,914

11,632

%

92

51.4

1.6

11.3

4.1

27.9

2.7

30.6

100.0

02

48.7

1.3

8.5

6.9

31.8

1.9

33.6

100.0

Note: Totals do not add up as growth points, administration centres, “special” and state land categories are excluded as these only account for about 1% of the population in both census years. Urban totals may not add up precisely due to rounding. Reductions in “other urban areas” will be due to redesignation of some as urban councils (thereby increasing the relative growth of urban councils).

Source: Central Statistical Office, Zimbabwe

INTERNAL MIGRATION IN THE 1990S

National factors are not the only structural conditions that influence decisions to migrate. In many ways, Zimbabwe’s efforts to “modernize” according to the tenets of the development models of the 1960s were hampered by global trends in ideology and practice. In the 1980s, the majority of African countries north of Zimbabwe came under the control of the international financial institutions, which were convinced that states should withdraw from their experiments at “modernization” and allow market forces to be the main determinants of economic development. Zimbabwe’s first decade of development practice flew in the face of this ideology and hampered its access to external investment and aid.12 By the 1990s, the government had acceded to international pressure and adopted the structural adjustment policies (SAPs) that much of the rest of the continent had already experienced under the auspices of the World Bank. The outcomes were unfortunately very predictable. Urban and rural poverty increased, social indices declined, massive formal job loss occurred in towns and the informal sector expanded still further.13 The negative impact was felt across the country but it was worst in the urban areas.14 Incorporation into the global ideology of market liberalization thus began to change the relative economic advantages of towns versus rural areas – although both suffered.

Prices rose in towns and incomes fell in real terms in the formal sector, as well as much of the informal sector (with some important exceptions such as the used clothes trade) due to increased competition.15 Prices also rose in rural areas as the cost of agricultural inputs increased. Many households were not food self-sufficient which caused problems for them. Research on perceptions of the impact of SAPs found that urban-based migrants were well aware of the problems faced by rural dwellers, but they also emphasised that the full impact of cost rises was mitigated in rural areas by food production and the avoidance of many urban costs, such as rents for housing, energy and water charges and regular transport fares.16 Most migrants had positive attitudes towards the land reform programme and judged that the beneficiaries had generally gained materially (although they also suggested many ways in which the programme could be improved). Only 18 percent of the respondents felt that they would definitely remain permanently in Harare. This was about half the proportion in a previous survey conducted in 1985. By 2001, only 13 percent definitely planned a permanent stay. Fourteen percent expected to stay at least ten years (i.e. were long-term migrants) and for most of the rest, there was simply a great deal of uncertainty about the prospects of any sort of urban future.17 Overall, perceptions of the security and benefits of urban livelihoods had deteriorated very sharply compared to the 1980s, which was a rational response to national economic trends.

The reduction in the rural-urban income gap in many African countries in the 1980s and 1990s, combined with deterioration in urban services, depressed urban population growth rates as net in-migration fell. Even if rates of rural out-migration were high, this was counterbalanced by a greater propensity of urban in-migrants to opt for shorter term stays, resulting in net in-migration becoming a smaller share of urban population expansion in many towns across the continent.18 Given the economic trends in Zimbabwe in the 1990s, there were good reasons to expect similar shifts there.

The magnitude and nature of internal migration between 1992 and 2002 can be deduced from the 2002 census and other sources. Before embarking on this exercise, however, it is necessary to discuss the nature of the data and some of the controversies which surround the 2002 census. A sharp political divide between the ruling party and the opposition was firmly in place by the time of this census and, given ZANU-PF’s record of political violence and repression by the 2000s, it was inevitable that the opposition would be extremely suspicious of census results which can, as is well known, be manipulated to political advantage. Such advantage normally results from boosting the population in one area over another, since national resources are partly allocated on the basis of population figures.

Zimbabwe’s 2002 census enumerated a population of about 11.6 million, considerably less than many had anticipated given the growth rates experienced in the previous two inter-censal periods, and the rates of natural increase extant in 1992. The intercensal national annual growth rate was 1.1 percent (Table 3.1), a third of that in the previous inter-censal period and very low by comparison with most African countries. There were many allegations that the census had under-enumerated the population for political gain. However, there are a number of counterpoints. First, it is unclear what the government could gain by systematic under-enumeration. Selective under-enumeration of urban areas might yield some gain if the figures were used to drive down resources allocated to them, and certainly many town councils protested the census figures, including Bulawayo. However, this is fairly ubiquitous across Africa, for nearly all urban authorities tend to project their growth from past rates, despite the fact that these have unquestionably fallen.19

Second, under-enumerating the urban population to reduce voter rolls for the disaffected urban population, who have voted against the ruling party in the last two elections, could be an effective tool, but only if there were a direct link between the two. In fact, voter rolls are based on separate registration. There was definite evidence that the government did indeed interfere in this process to boost rural versus urban voter rolls, and to hinder the registration of urban youth, their greatest critics, but this did not rest on the census figures. Indeed, in the end, the opposition used the evidence of the 2002 census – which had recorded higher urban than rural growth – to support its allegations of voter roll rigging.20

A third counter-argument is that Zimbabwe has experienced a sharp and sustained fall in fertility, in common with some other countries to its south.21 By 1999, the total fertility rate was 3.96, compared to 5.4 in 1988, and further reduced slightly to 3.8 by 2005-6.22 At the same time, after a decade of declining mortality, the 1990s saw a rise in mortality, both for adults in the sexually-active age groups because of AIDS, and amongst children due mainly to reversals in the social welfare successes of the 1980s as health budgets were squeezed and household incomes declined. Demographic Health Surveys reported that in the early 1990s, under-five mortality rates were 58 deaths per 1,000 births but this rose to 102 for the five years prior to 1999, falling to 82 in 2005-6. When this situation is combined with the fact that adult mortality rates more than tripled between 1994 and 2005-6, with the rate of increase particularly rapid between 1994 and 1999, it becomes clear that a dramatic fall in natural increase rates in the 1990s was inevitable.23 In fact, the NI (natural increase) rate for 2001-2, the year before the census, was just 1.3 percent, based on a crude birth rate of 30.3 and a crude death rate of 17.2, compared to 2.5 percent for the year prior to the 1992 census (Table 3.3).24 These rates generally accord with what is known about national rates from other studies; they also indicate how steeply fertility fell during the 1980s and how the national population growth of 3.3 percent in that decade must have incorporated significant immigration.25

The final counterpoint to allegations of serious undercounting in the census is that there was significant emigration from Zimbabwe during the 1990s and even more so in the 2000s. Much of the movement across borders has been circular in nature but there has also been true emigration, driven by the country’s economic decline and negative political factors. Zimbabwe has become a country of net out-migration, after decades of attracting immigrants from neighbouring territories.26 The political significance of this emigration has, quite rightly, been publicized by the opposition. Large-scale emigration should logically also lead to an expectation that national population growth would fall, as the census recorded.

Table 3.3: Provincial Population Growth Indices, 1992-2002

Province

Population 1992 ‘000s

Population 2002 ‘000s

Crude birth rate 2001-02

Crude death rate 2001-02

Natural increase 2001-02 (%)

AAGR 1992-2002c(%)

Zimbabwe

10,412

11,632

30.3

17.2

1.3

1.1

Hararea

1,537

1,896

30.5

10.6

2.0

2.1

Mashonaland East

1,034

1,127

29.2

21.4

0.8

0.9

Mashonaland Central

857

995

32.5

18.9

1.4

1.5

Mashonaland West

1,113

1,225

30.9

19.2

1.2

1.0

Manicaland

1,537

1,569

31.3

17.4

1.4

0.2

Masvingo

1,223

1,320

28.8

18.5

1.0

0.8

Midlands

1,308

1,464

31.3

18.6

1.3

1.1

Matabeleland North

641

705

30.2

18.4

1.2

1.0

Matabeleland South

592

653

28.4

18.9

1.0

1.0

Bulawayob

622

677

27.0

13.9

1.3

0.8

a Harare province comprised three separately designated urban areas in 2002, Harare, Chitungwiza and Epworth, which essentially function as an urban conglomeration. The rural population of the province only accounts for about 1% of the population

b Bulawayo province comprises Bulawayo city; the two are synonymous.

c Average annual growth rate.

Source: compiled or calculated from data from the Central Statistical Office, Zimbabwe.

In sum then, the 2002 Census is not so seriously flawed that its results cannot be used for analysis, especially given the fact that it generally indicates relative changes, geographical patterns and general rates in line with broad expectations, given what is known about trends and levels of demographic indices from other surveys and from economic and political trends. In the 1990s, therefore, urban growth rates fell across the country, with a few exceptions (Table 3.1). Harare recorded an inter-censal average growth rate of 1.9 percent per year (about a quarter of the rate in the previous ten years) and Chitungwiza, 1.6 percent. More remarkably, Bulawayo’s annual rate fell to 0.8 percent from 4.1 percent in the 1980s.

The 2002 census reported the crude birth and death rates for all the towns in the year before the census. The resulting NI rates for each town are shown in Table 3.1. The rates only pertain to 2001-2, and are not valid for the entire inter-censal period. Rates would have been higher at the beginning of the period when death rates would have been significantly lower and birth rates slightly higher – thus the inter-censal average would be higher than the 2001-2 figure. On the other hand, the annual average growth rate (AAGR) smooths out the known variation over the whole ten-year period, which would have been on a downward trend, and so the rate for 2001-2 (NI plus net in- or out-migration) would have been lower than the average shown in Table 3.1. These two measures thus have a use as a crude index, comparable across the spectrum of urban areas, of the relationship between total growth and NI at the end of the inter-censal period.

When the NI in 2001-2 exceeded the AAGR for an urban settlement, it is likely that the settlement was experiencing net out-migration towards the end of the 1990s, and certainly by the beginning of the 2000s. This does not mean that the settlement was experiencing no in-migration, a common misunderstanding. There could still have been considerable in-migration but it was counter-balanced by a larger outflow. Where this situation pertained by 2001-2, the cells in Table 3.1 are shaded. The larger the gap between NI and the AAGR, the larger the likely flow of net out-migration. It should be noted that this measure includes emigration and is not confined to internal migration alone. The significance of this is obvious when looking at the national rates. It is known that there was significant emigration from Zimbabwe by 2002, due to the extreme economic stresses being experienced. This is indicated by the fact that NI in 2001-2 exceeded the AAGR (1.3 percent compared to 1.1 percent). The same appears to have been true for Harare, Bulawayo and Chitungwiza (the three largest towns), Gweru, Hwange, Zvishavane, Redcliff, Kariba, Shurugwi and Gwanda.

NI rates in urban areas across Africa are often as high, or higher, than those in rural areas and this was true also of Zimbabwe.27 Taking all urban areas together, the growth rate was 2.4 percent per year, well above anything that can be accounted for by urban NI alone, although birth and death rate data are not available for the aggregated urban system. This means that there must have been net in-migration to the urban system from rural areas over the inter-censal period. However, the data show that this must have been skewed towards the lower end of the urban hierarchy. The proportion of the national population in urban council areas increased by 3.9 percent. Some of the seeming population growth in urban council areas must be due to the re-definition of small urban settlements (where the proportion fell), a factor which often confounds urban growth analysis.

The data suggests that relative to population size, net in-migration was strongest in some of the smaller towns such as KweKwe, Masvingo, Marondera, Chegutu, Bindura and Victoria Falls. In towns with over 100,000 people in 1992, the one that continued, in relative terms, to attract most in-migrants, was Mutare near the Mozambican border. This was probably because of the opportunities created by cross-border trading with Mozambique which became increasingly important as the 1990s wore on. Similar factors in relation to South Africa probably underpin Beitbridge’s strong growth. Furthermore, with the exception of Epworth, virtually all the centres with more than 50,000 in 2002 grew at an average rate which was well under half that experienced from 1982-92. Given the parameters of migration outlined above for the 1990s, this is in line with expectations whereby net rural-urban migration streams have weakened considerably.

Nearly all of the provinces were experiencing net out-migration by the end of the inter-censal period (Table 3.3). Only three had a higher AAGR than NI rate in 2001-2, and in each case the difference was a mere 0.1 percent: Harare province (which essentially comprises the three urban areas of Harare city, Chitungwiza and Epworth) and Mashonaland East and Central provinces. It is possible, therefore, that even these provinces had some net out-migration by the 2000s. This would mean that none of the provinces had net in-migration from internal sources, and that the population of every province was growing at a rate less than NI, due to emigration.

In brief, the larger the gap between NI and the AAGR, the longer the period of out-migration (both internal and external). A large gap probably also indicates that emigration, rather than internal net out-migration, was more important and started earlier. This suggests that the provinces of Manicaland and Bulawayo had the strongest emigration, particularly Manicaland where the AAGR was only 0.2 percent per year, and NI was 1.4 percent in 2001-2 (although the province also saw sharp falls in its commercial farm population). This accords with a wide range of evidence that there was much emigration from Bulawayo to South Africa and Botswana, and cross-border emigration from Manicaland to Mozambique (reversing the usual direction of flows for many decades before). The data also suggest that Matabeleland North experienced rather more out-migration than Matabeleland South, but in this case the relative size of outflows seem to have been roughly the same as in Mashonaland West, Masvingo and Midlands.

Table 3.4: Interprovincial Lifetime Migration, 2002

Province

Census population, 2002a

Population/ever born in province, 2002 (%)

As % of population in 2002

Born and residing in province

Born elsewhere

Born in province, residing elsewhere

Net gain lifetime migrationb

Harare

1,820,675

128

48

52

-31

22

Bulawayo

664,973

123

49

51

-32

19

Manicaland

1,602,327

89

85

15

-27

-12

Mashonaland Central

996,694

102

76

24

-22

2

Mashonaland East

1,135,201

93

70

30

-38

-8

Mashonaland West

1,214,036

107

70

30

-24

6

Matabeleland North

704,540

99

80

20

-21

-1

Matabeleland South

639,721

92

81

19

-27

-8

Midlands

1,476,644

99

75

25

-25

-1

Masvingo

1,360,825

84

86

14

-33

-19

a Figures differ slightly from census totals as they are for Zimbabwean-born population only.

b Population residing in province but born elsewhere (= lifetime in-migration) minus those born in province but living elsewhere (= lifetime out-migration).

Source: Central Statistical Office, Zimbabwe, “2002 Census,” 2004.

The census also provides information on (a) inter-provincial lifetime migration, based on place of birth, compared to place of enumeration in 2002; and on (b) inter-censal interprovincial migration, based on place of residence in 1992 compared to 2002.28 The two urban provinces of Harare and Bulawayo (which together contain the country’s three largest urban areas, plus Epworth) have experienced significant lifetime net in-migration (Table 3.4). For Harare province the rate was +22 percent, and for Bulawayo +19 percent. For Harare, this suggests that, in relation to the Zimbabwean-born population there in 2002, just over a fifth were accounted for by the difference between people born elsewhere who had moved into Harare province since, and those born in the province who had moved out and were enumerated elsewhere. A different way of measuring this is that the 2002 population exceeded the total ever born in the province by 28 percent (i.e. it was 128 percent of the ever born).

These indices hide the sheer scale of lifetime movement in and out of these two provinces (Table 3.4). In both cases, just under half of the 2002 population was born in the province, with the other half being lifetime in-migrants. However, this has to be balanced against the fact that almost a third of those born there had moved out in both provinces. Some of this would be children born in town who have subsequently gone to live in CAs, a fairly common pattern in Zimbabwe. But it undoubtedly involves a significant amount of out-migration by other age groups. The table indicates that large-scale out-migration has also occurred in all the other provinces, equivalent to roughly a fifth to a quarter of people born, with even larger outflows for Masvingo and Mashonaland East. Inflows of people born in other provinces counterbalanced these movements to quite a large extent. Mashonaland Central and West were net gainers, and the others net losers, with particularly strong outflows from Masvingo province (-19 percent), followed by Manica-land and Matabeleland South.

As would be expected, geographical distance plays a major part in determining the source of these lifetime in-migration flows for all the provinces. Taking the urban provinces as examples, in Harare 14 percent of the 2002 population were born in Mashonaland East, 12 percent in Manicaland, and 12 percent in the other two Mashonaland provinces. Only 1.5 percent came from Bulawayo. For Bulawayo, almost 5 percent had been born in Harare but the strongest inflows were from the two Matabeland provinces which accounted together for 26 percent of its population, followed by Midlands at 8 percent.

Inter-censal flows generally replicate the broad patterns of lifetime migration in terms of provincial net losers and gainers, the geographical sources of migration, and the fact that net migration disguises very large amounts of movement in and out of provinces in the ten years before the census (Table 3.5). The data here, taken together with all the other tabulated data so far discussed, suggest a number of things.

Table 3.5: Inter-Censal, Interprovincial Migration, 2002 Province

Province

Census population >10 yrs,2002a

In-migrants 1992-2002/Census population, 2002 (%)

As % of population aged >10 years in 1992

Resident in 1992 and 2002

In-migrants 1992-2002

Out-migrants 1992-2002

Net gain 1992-2002 migrationb

Harare

1,397,596

34

75

38

-25

13

Bulawayo

514,524

30

75

32

-25

6

Manicaland

1,134,037

12

83

11

-17

-6

Mashonaland Central

816,338

21

77

20

-23

-2

Mashonaland West

875,758

19

82

20

-18

2

Matabeleland North

494,461

12

86

12

-14

-2

Matabeleland South

449,253

14

86

14

-14

0

Midlands

1,048,659

15

82

15

-18

-3

Masvingo

972,851

11

82

10

-18

-8

a. To compare populations in 1992 and 2002 the census tables exclude those under ten years of age in 2002 as they had not been born in 1992. To retain comparability the matrices used to generate inter-censal flows also exclude the under-tens in 1992. The CSO also excluded from the 2002 population those who reported that their place of enumeration had not been their main place of usual residence during the 12 months before that census.

b. Population resident in 2002 minus the 1992 residents still there in 2002 (= inter-censal in-migration), minus difference between 1992 resident population and the 1992 residents still there in 2002 (= inter-censal out-migration).

Source: Central Statistical Office, Zimbabwe, “2002 Census,” 2004.

First, Harare and Bulawayo provinces gained people from elsewhere from 1992-2000, but it is very likely that the net gain occurred in the earlier parts of this period, to be replaced by net out-migration in the last few years. In other words, in relation to the 1992 census population, roughly two-fifths of Harare’s population (aged over ten years) moved in during the inter-censal period, but most of them must have come early on, while of the quarter who moved out, most probably did so towards the end of the period. This, of course, fits with economic trends, with urban circumstances becoming increasingly difficult and thus attracting fewer in-migrants by the end of the 1990s and into the 2000s, and also encouraging a larger outflow of those already there. Of Harare province’s net in-migration (equivalent to about 13 percent of its population in 1992), the largest shares came from Mashonaland East and Manicaland, and the least from the Matabeleland provinces. For Bulawayo, the net internal gain was +6 percent, a balance of about 13,000 people over ten years. However, its average growth rate was so low that this was more than counterbalanced by emigration. Given the size of the Zimbabwean population in South Africa and Botswana (the most likely destinations for emigrants from Bulawayo), it is evident that such a small net internal gain would be swamped by the emigration that has occurred.

Second, most other provinces had relatively small amounts of positive or negative net migration, although in every case there was considerable movement in and out, especially in Mashonaland East and West, where a migration flow approximating a fifth of the numbers there in 2002 had moved in, and a fifth had moved out. Finally, Manicaland and Masvingo provinces had the largest net outflows to places elsewhere in Zimbabwe, as with lifetime migration patterns, but the NI data suggest that for Manicaland in particular this would have been greatly exacerbated by emigration too.

LIVELIHOOD DESTRUCTION AND INTERNAL MIGRATION

Economic decline in the 1990s, and its acceleration after 2000, caused some of the internal migration flows documented above. Thus, the shift to net out-migration from the main towns was caused by the crisis in the formal urban job market and the serious decline in urban incomes. An urban vulnerability assessment in September 2003 found that in the high-density areas where the majority of Zimbabwe’s urban people live, 77 percent of households were poor. This figure included 57 percent deemed to be “very poor,” meaning that they could not afford to buy enough food, much less anything else.29 The proportion below the poverty line had roughly trebled in 12 years.30 The vulnerability assessment also found that 66 percent of urban households were food insecure, compared to 64 percent in rural areas.

As a significant proportion of the urban population had come from rural areas, some still had the possible alternative of a rural livelihood. An increasing proportion of urbanites were planning or anticipating return moves to rural areas in 1994, and an even larger proportion in 2001. Circular migration has remained important in Zimbabwe, and the evidence suggests that during the 1990s, the average length of stay of individual migrants shortened, and the rate of out-migration increased. This in itself is confirmation of a sort of livelihood destruction in both rural and urban areas.

After 2000, two deliberate and disruptive government policies caused further livelihood destruction and related internal migration: the expropriation of commercial farms and Operation Murambatsvina. In 2000, the Zimbabwean government announced a policy of forced expropriation of commercial farms in the country. Historical explanations for this dramatic intervention and the nature of the programme itself have been thoroughly discussed elsewhere.31 The government’s stated intention was to replace the ownership and agricultural systems on most of the expropriated farms with small-scale peasant farms based largely on family labour – called A1 farms – as in the CAs and most of the RAs. The rest, so-called A2 farms, were to be transferred to black African owners, to strengthen black ownership and control of the commercial farming sector.

The impact of fast-track land reform on internal population distribution in Zimbabwe was bound to be large. By July 2003, 6.4 million hectares had been allocated to A1 and A2 farms at a ratio of about 2:1. At that point, the uptake of allocations amongst A1 peasants was reported as 97 percent, and of A2 farms as 66 percent. A further 2.8 million hectares was unallocated. About 1.2 million hectares remained as “large-scale commercial farms,” often white-owned.32

Had there been full uptake of all the expropriated farms, had all the land been actively farmed by its new occupants (whether commercial farmers or peasant smallholders) and had the programme been supported by investment in inputs and infrastructure (as on the previous RAs), there would probably have been a net shift of the country’s population onto these farms once they were all allocated. This would have involved a considerable amount of in- and out-migration based on the assumption that the average household size on the A1 farms would have approximated that on the RAs (around 10 - 11 per household), and that the new commercial farmers would have retained their labour force in order to ensure continued production.33 The existing labour force was skewed towards the farms allocated to A2 owners, as these were more likely to be of higher agro-ecological value and more intensively farmed by their former owners, and thus had larger workforces. The black elite were able to steer the process so that A1 farms were more likely to be less naturally productive and less likely to have irrigation facilities.34

The actual effect of the programme on internal population distribution was to force significant net out-migration from the commercial farms, mainly of former farmworkers.35 There is evidence of out-migration in the data from the 1992 and 2002 censuses (Table 3.2). The agricultural land-use categories pertinent in 1992 were retained for the 2002 census enumeration forms, since the new categories such as A1 farms are not present in the 2002 categories. The data show that the large-scale commercial farms (LSCFs), which by 2002 would have mainly become A1 and A2 farms and unallocated land, had a net loss of population in absolute terms of about 190,000 people and accounted for only 8.5 percent of the total population, as against 11.3 percent in 1992. The actual loss would have been even greater as the LSCF population would have been larger in 2000 than 1992, given natural increase.

Manicaland, where there were many commercial farms on high-potential arable land, recorded the largest fall, by 2002, of 28 percent of its 1992 LSCF population, which further helps to explain its very low AAGR. The CAs recorded a relative loss from 51.4 percent of the national population to 48.7 percent. The RAs saw a significant increase from 427,000 to 800,000 people – an 87 percent increase. These figures for the RAs tally roughly with figures for the original land reform programme which show that by mid-1989 52,000 families (416,000 people) had been resettled.

The Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union, citing Central Statistical Office figures, put the total number of people living in RAs by the mid-1990s at 871,000 which tallied with panel data from Kinsey’s research.36 However, Kinsey later found that the population in the RAs (where he had been working for nearly 20 years) had declined as the fast-track programme began. He attributed this in part to some RA household members relocating to CAs to have the chance of being listed for resettlement under the new programme.37 The reduction shown in the population on small-scale commercial farms (SSCFs) in 2002 may suggest that similar out-migration happened there in 2000-2001. Both the RAs and the SSCF areas had been characterized by very large household sizes compared to CA or urban households prior to the fast-track programme. This was a reflection both of their greater labour needs as farm sizes were much larger than in the CAs, and their relatively high household incomes.38

The usual starting point for estimating livelihood loss on the large-scale commercial farms is that there were about 320,000 to 350,000 farmworkers on these farms before 2000.39 No data on the commercial farm workforce is contained in the published volumes of the 2002 census, perhaps not surprisingly. If we assume that there were approximately 300,000 workers in 1992, a rough average household size for commercial farmworkers would be about 3.9.40 Assuming that there were 350,000 farmworkers in 2000, the black population on the LSCFs before the fast-track programme was roughly 1.36 million.41

There is a considerable discrepancy (of 800,000 to a million people) between this figure and those in the report for the Farm Community Trust, which estimated that farmworkers’ dependants numbered between 1.8 and 2 million. The report does not explain how the dependant estimate was calculated, and it may be that it relates also to family members who were living outside the commercial farms, for example in neighbouring CAs. This would be logical. However, some have taken these figures to refer to the population actually on the LSCFs before the 2000 phase of land reform, and have assumed that they are the base number from which to calculate subsequent displacement, thereby over-inflating the numbers involved.

According to the Farm Community Trust report, by the beginning of 2003 approximately 180,000 to 200,000 farmworkers had lost their jobs. This would leave between 100,000 to 170,000 still employed, depending on the base figures used. The report itself cites 100,000 farmworkers still employed. Alternative data in another study are more comprehensive – they state that half the original 350,000 workers were part-time and casual workers, and about half were permanent.42 Of the latter, an estimated half (85,000) kept their jobs, often in agro-industrial and forest plantations which had not been transferred at the time of these estimates, although some subsequently were. The study also estimates that about 80,000 of the part-timers continued to work on LSCFs and some workers worked for the new farmers. In total about 90,000 farmworkers are estimated to have completely lost their livelihoods, and “have either remained on their residential plots on the farms, or relocated to the communal areas, or formed new “informal settlements” under desperate conditions.” This seems to be an underestimate, unless they are assuming that 100,000 obtained jobs with the “new farmers” in addition to those who kept their jobs. Sachikonye also points out that many who lost their jobs remained in situ, often in desperate circumstances; he estimated that this involved up to 50 percent of the workers. Others had to relocate.43

In sum, it is very difficult to know the numbers displaced by the fast-track resettlement programme. It seems that perhaps 160,000 to 180,000 formal agricultural livelihoods were lost, although not all of these people and their dependants necessarily moved. The census data suggest a loss of over 200,000 people since 1992 on the LSCFs. Some of these would have left the country, as many of the farmworkers had connections with Mozambique where land is plentiful. Those of Malawian ancestry would have found such an option far less possible.44

The lack of official interest or concern about the farmworkers as a political constituency was to prove dreadfully disadvantageous as the “white” commercial agricultural sector was dismantled. Without a strong political identity or voice, their claims for secure livelihoods were largely ignored. They suffered greatly from the ruling party’s efforts to identify them as supporting the white commercial farmers. They further suffered from being identified as “other” (such as Malawian or Mozambican) by black Zimbabweans, due to the legacy of the foreign element in the commercial farm labour force. This was used as a justification for excluding them from the land reform process. It is of little use to the excluded farmworkers that these “justifications” are easily challenged. For example, the 1990s saw a major farmworker strike against their employers for better wages. Also, by far the majority of farmworkers were locally born by 2000, whatever the nationality of their parents or grandparents.45

Many who were forced to move had the possibility of going to CAs and attempting to gain access to land there through their kinship links. However, given the shortage of land in the CAs – one of the driving forces of Zimbabwean land reform – this “option” would not necessarily have been an easy one, even for those with clear land rights. For those deemed “aliens,” this option was even more difficult. However, there has been much conceptual blurring in the figures about “aliens” on the farms. Despite the evidence that the foreign-born component of the farmworkers must have been very small by 2000, the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe estimated that they still comprised 30 percent of all farmworkers.46 The inconsistency arises from counting many born in Zimbabwe, with some element of foreign ancestry, as “aliens” or, even more confusingly, as “migrants.” As Sachikonye notes, most so-called migrant workers are actually “second or third-generation descendants of the migrants imported during the first half of the 20th century.” In his 2002 study, he found that the proportion of “migrants” among farmworkers was 29 percent.47

The use of the term “migrant” to identify farmworkers without Zimbabwean nationality is conceptually unhelpful and has done them no favours. Conceptually, “foreign migrant” might make more sense. But most of these so-called migrants were born on the farms that they were working on – it would hard to be less of a migrant worker than that. To deem as “alien” people born in Zimbabwe serves only to obscure. The survey for the Farm Community Trust found that 12 percent of the “migrants” had forebears from Malawi and 12 percent from Mozambique (most of the rest had either Zambian or Batswana ancestry).48 However there is no indication of the degree of such ancestry – for example, was one Malawian grandparent enough to deem a worker “foreign?” Is there any point in referring to someone born in Zimbabwe, whose parents were both born in Zimbabwe, as foreign? The one certain thing is that the proportion of the agricultural workforce who were foreign in the usually accepted sense must have been rather small by 2000, and very much less than 25-30 percent. Most would have been elderly (and thus particularly vulnerable).

In sum, there has been some confusion about the scale of the geographical displacement of Zimbabwe’s farmworkers. However, it is clear that it was very significant. Research on the farmworkers’ predicament and their current situation has focussed on those still on the farms because of the difficulty of tracing where displaced workers have gone. The census is of no help as it is impossible to disaggregate whether they have been absorbed into the CAs, the urban areas, or the old RAs. A number of informal settlements were reported to have grown up in various locations throughout the country, including at Macheke, Concession, Chihwiti and Gambuli and near Rusape in Manicaland, Mhangura in Mashonaland West, Nyamandlovu in Matabeleland North and Esigodini in Matabeleland South.49 However, farmworkers were not always the main originators of these settlements. In some cases, a lack of urban housing and jobs pushed urban residents into such settlements.

Some hints on farmworker destinations can be found in the Farm Community Trust survey which asked retrenched workers still on the farms about their intentions. The majority hoped to remain on the farms; most of the rest said they might go to CAs or other commercial farms. Very few thought they might go to RAs (3 percent). Only 3 percent were apparently thinking of non-rural options within Zimbabwe or beyond. Of course, no one is likely to “plan” to go to a squatter camp so there was bound to be a mismatch between the plans of those surveyed on the farms (and thus, by definition, not precipitately displaced) and the actual outcomes for those forced to move without time to plan. It appears that those physically displaced were distributed, therefore, between different types of destinations. In every case, however, the migration was forced and the livelihood outcome highly disadvantageous.

The second major government intervention which had a dramatic impact on urban livelihoods was Operation Murambatsvina (Restore Order/Clear Out the Trash). In 2005, this drastic campaign was launched against all forms of informality in urban Zimbabwe, especially embracing housing and informal jobs. In July, a UN report estimated that around 650,000 to 700,000 people had lost either the basis of their livelihoods or their homes, or both.50 This figure was based on the government’s own estimates and average household size, plus information gathered from a variety of different organisations and individuals within the country. The government recorded that 92,460 dwelling units had been razed, leading to around 570,000 people, or 133,534 households, losing their homes; a further 98,000 were reported to have lost their informal sector livelihoods. The official data indicated that, in relation to their share of Zimbabwe’s total urban population, the towns worst affected by housing destruction were those in Manicaland (primarily Mutare), Matabeleland North (primarily Victoria Falls) and Mashonaland West.

No regional or ethnic factors were clearly discernible in Operation Musambatsvina – the impact was concentrated in those towns where “unplanned” housing of various sorts was most common. Household occupancy rates within such dwellings then determined how many families were caught up in the “tsunami,” as locals swiftly nicknamed the campaign. Neither Harare nor Bulawayo was disproportionately affected. Indeed, according to government data, the reverse was true and Bulawayo was (relatively) least affected of all. Official bias may have affected these figures although, at first, the government did not seem to feel it necessary to hide the details of the campaign. Also, Bulawayo had, for various reasons, a lower proportion of informal housing than many other towns.51 The particularly strong impact in Mutare and Victoria Falls can be related to the fact that both had strong in-migration relative to much of the urban hierarchy in the 1990s, encouraging the establishment of informal housing despite the government’s strong antipathy.

The possible motives for this terrible campaign involved a lethal mixture of vindictive electoral politics, a particularly strong attachment to planned environments, and a wish to reduce the urban population for political and economic reasons.52 A major objective was to forcibly displace, to rural areas, those urban people whose houses were demolished – potentially over half a million people. Had this succeeded, the impact on internal migration would have been massive, apart from the flagrant breaches of human rights involved. In reality, the eventual displacement after about a year was much smaller. There was, and still is, serious displacement within the urban areas themselves for, in the end, most of those whose houses were demolished relocated within the towns, causing incredible overcrowding in formal, planned houses which were often already crowded.

The government argued that all “true” Zimbabweans had rural “homes” so the displaced could, and should, go to these homes. There certainly are strong rural-urban connections in Zimbabwe and a significant and increasing proportion of recent inmigrants anticipate exercising rural livelihood options in the mid- to short-term future. Unfortunately, these connections were being misused and deliberately exaggerated by the government for its own ends. An increasing share of all urban populations did not have an active rural connection (for example, many of the urban-born). Salient gender and foreign descent issues also prevailed against viable, economic links in rural areas for many urban dwellers.

A blanket assumption that all urban dwellers could pick up some sort of rural livelihood is nonsensical.53 Women’s claims to land in the CAs in their own right are far weaker than men’s in Zimbabwe and many divorced, widowed or separated women migrate to town because they have been squeezed off the land and their social links in rural areas have become dysfunctional. Foreign descent is also likely to preclude local rural linkages, for obvious reasons. As discussed, many farmworkers in this category were forced out of the LSCFs by the fast-track land programme. Some ended up in and around towns and, already marginalized in Zimbabwean society, were more likely to live in the peri-urban communities and informal housing stock that were the very targets of Operation Murambatsvina. If people in these groups were forced into rural areas during the campaign, it is inevitable that they would have had to return to town as their livelihood options there would have generally been non-existent.

The campaign did displace some people “voluntarily” to rural areas inasmuch as they were not forcibly rounded up and bused there, as many were. Some were assisted by NGOs and churches on a humanitarian basis, despite uneasiness about seemingly carrying out the government’s dirty work. In Victoria Falls, for example, 4,000 people, equivalent to one in eight of the 2002 population, were returned on a voluntary basis by churches.54 Surveys showed that some out-migrants left Zimbabwe altogether, primarily to be able to earn remittances to support their households in the country.55

The precise numbers who moved out of the towns because of the campaign, will never be known. Some surveys suggested significant displacement in the immediate aftermath. In Harare’s high-density areas, one survey estimated that 40 percent of respondents had family units disrupted by the campaign, mainly because a wife and/or children had gone to rural areas.56 A later survey of Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare found essentially the same pattern, although in this case it was reported that some of them had gone to other suburbs.57 Such surveys miss households who left in their entirety, however, so this would underestimate the impact. Human Rights Watch estimated in September 2005 that, of the 700,000 or so estimated to have been displaced, 114,000 (20 percent) had gone to rural areas.58

Operation Murambatsvina was a massive disruption for the urban population even if the majority stayed in town. Later reports and surveys often found that many who were either forced out, or went “voluntarily” to rural areas, subsequently returned. One survey in Bulawayo found that only 2 percent of entire households from demolished houses had moved to a rural area while another 4 percent had moved but left their breadwinner in Bulawayo. Overall, this survey calculated that a maximum of 17 percent, and a minimum of 6 percent, of displaced households went to rural areas. Of the rest, a few individuals went to other towns or to South Africa or Botswana, but the vast majority of the internally-displaced remained in Bulawayo. Thirty-eight percent remained on the stand where their backyard structure had been demolished, and 38 percent went to another stand. Other surveys in certain areas of Bulawayo and Victoria Falls found that 19 percent of those displaced from urban to rural areas were still there, but 75 percent were known to have returned to town. Very few of those displaced had been able to devise an alternative livelihood in a rural area and this was the primary reason for their urban return.59

Research in 2006 amongst those made homeless in Harare found much evidence of urban-rural migration caused by the campaign, although none of the informants in agencies or among those affected could estimate the numbers.60 There was some evidence that those deemed, even by government, to have no rural links, such as those of foreign descent or urban-born, were taken to long-term holding camps such as Hopley Farm on Harare’s outskirts. One form of urban-rural movement noted was people moving from Harare not to distant rural “homes,” but to the CAs nearest to the city.

The issue of rural kinship links and assets for an alternative livelihood are of little relevance to this sort of out-migration, as the aim was to maintain physical access to the city and urban livelihoods via commuting. Purchasing a plot to build a house, thereby avoiding the planning restrictions of a residence within city boundaries, is often possible in such areas, despite land purchase being at odds with indigenous tenure. The very rapid inter-censal growth rates of towns like Ruwa and Norton (Table 3.1), which are within commuting distances of Harare but have far more space and easier access to housing, are further evidence of these patterns being driven by lack of official housing in Harare. The expansion of Epworth, a large unplanned settlement on the outskirts of Harare, which grew up in the 1970s and 1980s on missionary land, is also associated with this phenomenon, although parts of it suffered under Operation Murambatsvina.

CONCLUSION

Since independence, internal migration patterns in Zimbabwe have undergone massive shifts. In the 1980s, they broadly conformed to expected patterns, with people moving from rural to urban areas (albeit with much mid- to long-term circulation) in response to economic opportunities. These patterns began to shift in the 1990s after ESAPs were introduced and urban employment and incomes were negatively affected. Lower net in-migration to towns resulted but migration patterns were still the result of choice, although those choices were obviously strongly determined by global economic influences.

By the end of the 1990s, people’s perceptions of relative economic opportunities were leading not only to altered internal migration but also to emigration, which greatly accelerated in the 2000s. However, after 2000, government policies forced two further kinds of migration, both of which conflict with the expectation that migrants usually move to places of relative economic advantage. Significant numbers moved away from former jobs in the commercial farming sector as that sector was profoundly disrupted by fast-track land reform. And hundreds of thousands were displaced within the cities by Operation Murambatsvina. Many were forced into rural areas in the short-term, but since they could not survive there, they subsequently returned to the towns. The general economic decline in Zimbabwe has caused immense suffering, but these two sudden policies, which made hundreds of thousands move against their wishes, are sadly distinctive in the amount of human misery they have generated.

NOTES

1 E. Gargett, The Administration of Transition: African Urban Settlement in Rhodesia (Gwelo: Mambo Press, 1977).

2 C. Mutambirwa and D. Potts, “Changing Patterns of African Rural-Urban Migration and Urbanization in Zimbabwe” Eastern and Southern African Geographical Journal 1(1) (1990): 26-39.

3 R. Palmer, Land and Racial Domination in Rhodesia (Berkeley: University of California Press and London: Heinemann, 1977); J. Alexander, J. McGregor and T. Ranger, Violence and Memory: One Hundred Years in the ‘Dark Forests’ of Matabeleland (Oxford: James Currey, 2000).

4 A. Hammar, B. Raftopoulos, and S. Jensen, eds., Zimbabwe’s Unfinished Business: Rethinking Land, State and Nation in the Context of Crisis (Harare: Weaver Press, 2003); S. Moyo and P. Yeros, “Land Occupations and Land Reform in Zimbabwe: Towards the National Democratic Revolution” In S. Moyo and P. Yeros, eds., Reclaiming the Land: The Resurgence of Rural Movements in Africa, Asia, and Latin America (London: Zed Books, 2005), pp. 165-208; J. Alexander, The Unsettled Land: State-Making and the Politics of Land in Zimbabwe, 1893-2003 (Oxford: James Currey, 2006).

5 C. Stoneman, ed., Zimbabwe’s Prospects: Issues of Race, Class, State and Capital in Southern Africa (London: Macmillan, 1988); W. Muhwava, “Fertility Decline and Determinants of Reproductive Change in Zimbabwe” PhD Thesis, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 1998.

6 M. Rukuni and C. Eicher, eds., Zimbabwe’s Agricultural Revolution (Harare: University of Zimbabwe Publications, 1994).

7 Alexander, Unsettled Land; Moyo and Yeros, “Land Occupations and Land Reform”; B. Kinsey, “Land Reform, Growth and Equity: Emerging Evidence from Zimbabwe’s Resettlement Programme” Journal of Southern African Studies 25(2) (1999): 173-96.

8 L. Sachikonye, “The Situation of Commercial Farmworkers after Land Reform in Zimbabwe” Report for the Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe, Harare, 2003; Moyo and Yeros, “Land Occupations and Land Reform”; Alexander, Unsettled Land.

9 Chitungwiza is Harare’s dormitory satellite town built, according to the segregationist auspices of the Rhodesian state, 26 kms from Harare itself, but functionally part of that city.

10 Stoneman, Zimbabwe’s Prospects; D. Auret, A Decade of Development: Zimbabwe, 1980-90 (Gweru: Mambo Press, 1990); D. Potts, “Urban Unemployment and Migrants in Africa: Evidence from Harare, 1985-94” Development and Change 31(4) (2000): 879-910.

11 D. Potts and C. Mutambirwa, “Rural-Urban Linkages in Contemporary Harare: Why Migrants Need Their Land” Journal of Southern African Studies 16(4) (1990): 177-98.

12 C. Stoneman, “Structural Adjustment in Eastern and Southern Africa: The Tragedy of Development” In D. Potts and T. Bowyer-Bower, eds., Eastern and Southern Africa: Development Challenges in a Volatile Region (Harlow: Pearsons, 2004), pp. 58-88.

13 D. Tevera, “The Medicine that Might Kill the Patient: Structural Adjustment and Urban Poverty in Zimbabwe” In D. Simon, W. van Spengen, C. Dixon, and A. Närman, eds., Structurally Adjusted Africa: Poverty, Debt and Basic Needs (London & Boulder: Pluto Press, 1995), pp. 79-90; Stoneman, “Structural Adjustment”; L. Bijlmakers, M. Basset, and D. Sanders, Socioeconomic Stress, Health and Child Nutritional Status in Zimbabwe at a Time of Economic Structural Adjustment (Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 1998).

14 D. Potts and C. Mutambirwa, “‘Basics are Now a Luxury:’ Perceptions of ESAP’s Impact on Rural and Urban Areas in Zimbabwe” Environment and Urbanization 10(1) (1998): 55-76.

15 Potts and Mutambirwa, “‘Basics are Now a Luxury’”; Bijlmakers, Basset and Sanders, Socioeconomic Stress.

16 D. Potts and C. Mutambirwa, “‘The Government Must Not Dictate...:’ Rural-Urban Migrants’ Perceptions of Zimbabwe’s Land Resettlement Programme” Review of African Political Economy 24(74) (1997): 549-66.

17 D. Potts, “‘All My Hopes and Dreams are Shattered:’ Urbanization and Migrancy in an Imploding Economy – The Case of Zimbabwe” Geoforum 37(4) (2006): 536-51.

18 C. Becker, A. Hamer, and A. Morrison, Beyond Urban Bias: African Urbanisation in an Era of Structural Adjustment (London: James Currey, 1994); D. Potts, “Urban Lives: Adopting New Strategies and Adapting Rural Links” In C. Rakodi, ed., The Urban Challenge in Africa: Growth and Management of its Large Cities (Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 1997), pp. 447-94; C. Beauchemin and P. Bocquier, “Migration and Urbanization in Francophone West Africa: A Review of the Recent Empirical Evidence” Urban Studies 41(11) (2004): 2245-72; D. Potts, “Urban Growth and Urban Economies in Eastern and Southern Africa: Trends and Prospects” In D. Bryceson and D. Potts, eds., African Urban Economies: Viability, Vitality or Vitiation of Major Cities in East and Southern Africa? (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2006), pp. 67-104.

19 See Potts, “Urban Growth and Urban Economies” for further discussion of these points in general for African towns.

20 Human Rights Watch, “Not a Level Playing Field: Zimbabwe’s Parliamentary Elections in 2005” Briefing Paper, New York, 2005, noted, for example, that the 2004 current voters’ roll for Harare had 832,000 names compared to 879,000 in 2002. The opposition leader said that recorded voter roll declines in the urban areas and increases in the rural areas were not supported by the 2002 census and called for an independent audit of the roll. The use of census data by the opposition is, unfortunately, often demonstrably mistaken, however. For example, this same report noted that the MDC claimed that the 2002 census showed that first, Harare’s potential voters had increased by 500,000, or 30 percent, and second, that more than 50 percent of the total population was under fifteen years. In fact, the total increase in the population in Harare in this period was 247,000 and a significant proportion of these would have been under voter age; and the census showed that 40 percent were under fifteen years.

21 D. Potts and S. Marks, “Fertility in Southern Africa: The Silent Revolution” Journal of Southern African Studies 27(2) (2001): 189-205; Central Statistical Office and Macro International Inc., Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey 2005-2006 (Harare: Central Statistical Office; Macro International, Maryland, 2007).

22 Central Statistical Office and Macro International Inc., Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey 1999 (Harare: Central Statistical Office; Macro International, Maryland, 2000); Central Statistical Office and Macro International, Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey 2005-2006.

23 The DHS surveys showed that the female adult death rate for 15-49 year olds increased from 3.34 per thousand in 1994, to 9.14 in 1999, to 12.66 in 2005-06. The male equivalents were 4.17, 11.35 and 13.3.

24 Central Statistical Office and Macro International Inc., Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey 1999.

25 The DHS surveys show that the crude birth rate recorded in the three years before the 2005-05 DHS was 31.0, and was around 34.5 in 1992 and 30.8 in 1999.

26 Using the known NI rates at the beginning and end of the census period, it is possible to calculate a very crude estimate of net emigration. For example, the 1992 population should first be deflated by the number of Mozambican refugees in camps in that year (120,000), who are known to have returned in the next few years. If the decline in natural increase is then assumed to have been weighted towards the first five years of the inter-censal period (in accordance with known trends) so that two-thirds of the decline occurred then, averaged out over the years, with the rest averaged out over the last five years. And if it is then assumed that emigration equalled about half a million, spaced out over the ten years, this yields a population in 2002 very close to that enumerated. Such calculations have to be treated with caution, as they take no account of the age-sex profile of emigrants, amongst many other complex demographic variables. Nonetheless, they do help to make sense of the census data, and also show that the wilder estimates of emigration by 2002 of some millions must have been incorrect.

27 That African urban NI rates, as in Zimbabwe, are often higher than rural ones, despite towns having lower fertility rates, seems surprising. It occurs because their age profiles are skewed towards those in their fertile years, due to selective in-migration, making their crude birth rates (births per thousand of the population) very similar to rural rates, and because their death rates are often very significantly lower than rural rates; see Potts, “Urban Growth and Urban Economies.”

28 Various indices compiled and calculated from census tables are shown in Tables 3.4 and 3.5. The figures for the population in 2002 needed to calculate these indices necessarily differ from those in Table 3.3 (as explained in the tables’ notes).

29 Zimbabwe National Vulnerability Assessment Committee (in collaboration with the SADC FANR Vulnerability Assessment Committee), Zimbabwe: Urban Areas Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment, September 2003 (Harare, Urban Report no. 1, 2004).

30 Potts, “‘All My Hopes and Dreams are Shattered’”; D. Potts, “‘Restoring Order?’ The Interrelationships Between Operation Murambatsvina in Zimbabwe and Urban Poverty, Informal Housing and Employment” Journal of Southern African Studies 32(2) (2006): 273-91.

31 For example, Alexander, Unsettled Land; Moyo and Yeros, “Land Occupations and Land Reform.”

32 Moyo and Yeros, “Land Occupations and Land Reform.”

33 Kinsey, “Land Reform, Growth and Equity.”

34 Moyo and Yeros, “Land Occupations and Land Reform.”

35 Sachikonye, “Situation of Commercial Farmworkers”

36 Kinsey, “Land Reform, Growth and Equity”; D. Potts, “Environmental Myths and Narratives: Case Studies from Zimbabwe” In P. Stott and S. Sullivan, eds., Political Ecology: Science, Myth and Power (London: Edward Arnold, 2000), pp. 45-65.

37 B. Kinsey, Paper presented at Britain-Zimbabwe Society Annual Research Meeting, Oxford, July 2006.

38 Kinsey, “Land Reform, Growth and Equity.”

39 Sachikonye, “Situation of Commercial Farmworkers.”

40 The calculation uses the 1992 census figure for the LSCF population of 1,177,000 adjusted for the size of the white farming population.

41 The figure of 350,000 is from Sachikonye, “Situation of Commercial Farmworkers.”

42 Moyo and Yeros, “Land Occupations and Land Reform.”

43 Sachikonye, “Situation of Commercial Farmworkers.”

44 D. Clarke, Agricultural and Plantation Workers in Rhodesia: A Report on Conditions of Labour and Subsistence (Gwelo: Mambo Press, 1971); D. Clarke, International Labour Supply: Trends and Economic Structure in Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in the 1970s (Geneva: International Labour Office; 1978); S. House, The Forgotten People: The Living and Health Conditions of Farmworkers and their Families (Gweru: Mambo Press, 1994); D. Auret, From Bus Stop to Farm Villlage: The Farmworker Programme in Zimbabwe (Harare: Save the Children UK, 2000); E. Vhurumuku, M. Longworth McGuire and V. Hill, Survey of Commercial Farmworkers Characteristics and Living Conditions in Zimbabwe, 1999 (Harare: USAID FEWS/Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe, 2000); B. Rutherford, Working on the Margins: Black Workers, White Farmers in Postcolonial Zimbabwe (Harare: Weaver Press, 2001); D. AmanorWilks, ed., Zimbabwe’s Farmworkers: Policy Dimensions (London, Panos Books, 2001).

45 Amanor-Wilks, Zimbabwe’s Farm Workers.

46 G. Magaramombe, “Rural Poverty: Commercial Farmworkers and Land Reform in Zimbabwe” Paper presented at the SARPN Conference on Land Reform and Poverty Alleviation in Southern Africa, Pretoria, June 2001.

47 Sachikonye, “Situation of Commercial Farmworkers.”

48 Ibid.

49 Ibid.

50 A. Tibaijuka, “Report of the Fact-Finding Mission to Zimbabwe to Assess the Scope and Impact of Operation Murambatsvina by the UN Special Envoy on Human Settlements Issues in Zimbabwe”, United Nations, New York, 2005.

51 D. Potts, “City Life in Zimbabwe at a Time of Fear and Loathing: Urban Planning, Urban Poverty, and Operation Murambatsvina” In M. Murray and G. Myers, eds., Cities in Contemporary Africa (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), pp. 265-88.

52 Ibid.

53 For further discussion of this point see, D. Potts, “Displacement and Livelihoods: The Longer Term Impacts of Operation Murambatsvina” In M. Vambe, ed., Zimbabwe: The Hidden Dimensions of Operation Murambatsvina (Harare, Weaver Press, 2008).

54 Solidarity Peace Trust, “Discarding the Filth: Operation Murambatsvina: Interim Report on the Zimbabwean Government’s ‘Urban Cleansing’ and Forced Eviction Campaign” (May/June 2005).

55 Potts, “Displacement and Livelihoods.”

56 Action Aid International in collaboration with the Combined Harare Residents’ Association, “A Study on the Impact of ‘Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order’ in 26 Wards of Harare High Density Housing Areas” (July 2005).

57 Action Aid International/CSU/CHRA/ZPP, “An In-Depth Study of Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order in Zimbabwe,” November 2005.

58 Human Rights Watch, “‘Clear the Filth’: Mass Evictions and Demolitions in Zimbabwe” Briefing Paper, New York, 2005, p.32.

59 Solidarity Peace Trust, “‘Meltdown:’ Murambatsvina One Year On” August 2006.

60 Potts, “Displacement and Livelihoods.”

LEAVING FOR HEALTH REASONS

From the time I started working as a doctor to the time I left Zimbabwe things were going down in terms of medicine supply, in terms of other health care professionals leaving and so forth. I graduated in 2000 and by 2004 I had left Zimbabwe. There were really serious shortages, people resigning, people going, people leaving. It was kind of fashionable to leave at that time and so I left. I started doing locums in Botswana in 2003. Then I moved to Swaziland in 2004. I only worked for about four months there. I applied to do a masters degree at Wits University and came here in 2005. I completed the degree in 2006. I then did another one in tropical medicine in 2007. At the end of 2007 I registered for my PhD, which I am doing now. I actually applied for the place when I was still in Zimbabwe.

When I started I was a student, I was studying part-time and I did not have a scholarship. I was paying my own fees. I would try to find a part-time job and also balance that with my schoolwork. So at first it was tough. Then I said to myself, I am more intelligent than these guys, let me do something else different. So I enrolled for an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) whilst I was actually doing my Masters in Public Health.

Later I became the HIV and AIDS programme manager for an NGO, without having any management experience whatsoever. But that MBA training helped me, even though I haven’t completed the degree yet. From there things began to move more smoothly. Some people even head hunted me after they heard me speak at a workshop. Recently, I have been working in a medical university. I left there last week and I started a new job this week.

Anyone who migrates without a job and without support finds it tough. But you need to work hard and actually the experience has turned out good for me because it makes you more clever, it makes you realise opportunities, it makes you very creative and things like that. I am really satisfied with what I have achieved. And financially, you know I would not have been able to buy a house here and there, to support my parents and to buy cattle if I was still in Zimbabwe. Unless I was doing some of those crooked deals!

I have managed to buy those things just because I am in South Africa. I send money regularly to Zimbabwe. It’s used for everything that you can think of. Paying school fees, buying food and so on. The amount of money that I send depends on need. For instance, next month September is a month for school fees. So I have to send more. My sisters are here too. So we all send money home. I might consider going back to Zimbabwe sometime in the future. I am in the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights. We get lecturers from South Africa to help with teaching in Zimbabwe since there is no one left there to teach.

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Chapter Four
Discontent and Departure: Attitudes of Skilled Zimbabweans Towards Emigration

Daniel Tevera and Jonathan Crush

Whether the brain drain is a “curse or boon,” and for whom, is the subject of considerable international debate.1 Many African governments and scholars argue that the West is actively “poaching” scarce skills without regard to the dire development consequences for countries of origin. One commentator, for example, maintains that the main pressures for the brain drain come from countries of origin, not destination: “Europe, for economic and demographic imperatives, needs immigrants to make up for the demographic deficit occasioned by an ageing population. Rich countries need two categories of immigrants to cope with prevailing economic and demographic imperatives: one set to do poorly paid, dirty, and dangerous jobs which nationals scorn; and highly specialised professionals, especially software specialists, engineers, doctors and nurses, in short supply.”2

A contrary line of thinking tends to blame the developing world for its own misfortune. In other words, there would be no brain drain if conditions at home were more conducive for skilled people to stay: “If we think of the world as no more than a set of countries which own their population, then this does look like theft by the developed countries. But that would be a foolish way to see it. The loss of skilled and professional workers on this scale is as much a vote of no confidence in the government concerned as a flight of capital. It becomes more like a flight of refugees, a flight from spectacular misgovernment, from appalling working conditions and pay levels so low that they are below subsistence. The remedy is not to end the right to work in developed countries but to make an environment at home in which people want to stay and work.”3

Contemporary Zimbabwe would probably be viewed by most as falling squarely in the latter camp. The brain drain of professionals was negligible in the first decade of independence (except of course for those white professionals who headed south across the Limpopo into apartheid South Africa). Indeed, many black professionals who had left Zimbabwe in the Smith years returned after 1980.4 The strictures of the structural adjustment policies (SAP) of the 1990s marked something of a turning point, however.5 For over a decade now, Zimbabwe has been experiencing a debilitating flight of professional and skilled people. This “brain drain” has now escalated to such a level that it has serious implications for future economic growth and development.6 Tens of thousands of Zimbabwean doctors, nurses, pharmacists, teachers and other professionals have left the country to secure jobs in Britain and in neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland and Namibia.7 Most seriously affected is the health sector where, according to one estimate, 60 percent of state-registered nurses and about half of the medical doctors have left the country since 1999.8

Against this backdrop, it is important to understand exactly what Zimbabwean professionals think about their country, their prospects and the future. Is the grass so green overseas that they would leave regardless of what was happening at home? Or have conditions at home become so difficult or unpalatable that departure for anywhere is the only realistic option? The Southern African Migration Programme (SAMP) has conducted two attitudinal surveys in Zimbabwe to better understand the reasons why so many professionals are leaving and what would be needed to stem the outflow. The first survey was conducted in 2001, just as the outflow of skilled migrants began to intensify. A sample of 738 working professionals from a variety of sectors was interviewed at length in the three cities of Harare, Bulawayo and Gweru. In 2005, SAMP interviewed a sample of 900 final-year students in colleges and universities in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Kadoma, Marondera, Rusape and Masvingo. Both surveys showed extraordinary dissatisfaction with social and economic conditions in Zimbabwe and levels of emigration potential that were significantly higher than in any other country surveyed.

THE POTENTIAL EMIGRANT POOL

This chapter defines a “skilled” Zimbabwean as someone who: (a) is a Zimbabwean citizen; (b) is 16 years of age or older; (c) has completed high school and possesses a diploma or degree from a recognized college or university (or is in the final year of studying for a diploma or degree) and (d) is currently economically active (employed or looking for employment). In addition, some high school leavers occupying accounting, managerial and clerical positions are included because of their experience.

The respondents in the SAMP survey of professionals were drawn from a wide range of professions including engineering, finance, health, law, police/military and education (Table 4.1). The services industry and banking/finance together made up almost 50 percent of the sample. A large proportion of the respondents in the service industry were engaged in retail as well as transport and communication. Another 16 percent were employed in the education/research field and 14 percent in a professional practice such as medicine, law, engineering and information technology. Other employers included heavy industry, government, the military and agriculture.

The majority of the respondents (59 percent) were from Harare, which accounts for nearly half of the urban population of Zimbabwe (Table 4.2). Ninety-four percent of the respondents were black or of African origin, 2 percent were white, 3 percent coloured and 1 percent of Indian or Asian origin. This distribution closely approximates the national population breakdown. However, the actual numbers of whites and Indian/Asians interviewed were too small to make general statements about the attitudes and emigration intentions of these groups of Zimbabweans.

The surveyed population was highly qualified: 46 percent had certificates or diplomas, 25 percent bachelors’ degrees, 5 percent masters’ degrees and 0.4 percent doctorates. Twenty-four percent had only gone as far as high school but the majority of these had been employed for extended periods and received in-house training, becoming “skilled” through experience. The majority of the sample (74 percent) had full-time jobs. Only 4 percent were unemployed.

Table 4.1: Employment Sectors of Professionals

 

No

%

Service industry

221

24.5

Finance/Banking

203

22.6

Education/Research

142

15.8

Professional practice

127

14.1

Police/Military

97

10.8

Heavy industry

97

10.8

Retail

93

10.3

Government

88

9.8

Accounting

75

8.3

Other services

60

6.7

Tertiary education

57

6.3

Medical

55

6.1

Banking

51

5.7

Manufacturing

46

5.1

Engineering

46

5.1

Finance

41

4.6

Secondary education

39

4.3

Insurance

36

4.0

Research

25

2.8

Transport and communication

23

2.6

Primary education

21

2.3

Construction

20

2.2

Food

17

1.9

Automotive

17

1.9

Law firm

16

1.8

Real estate

15

1.7

Agriculture

13

1.4

Mining

10

1.1

Private security

10

1.1

Information technology

10

1.1

Textile

4

0.4

Energy

3

0.3

Note: Respondents could give more than one answer.

Table 4.2: Distribution of Professionals’ Race and Residence

 

Race

Total

Black

White

Coloured

Indian/Asian

No.

%

Harare

502

9

14

4

529

58.8

Bulawayo

217

12

11

3

243

27.0

Mutare/Rusape

61

 

-

-

61

6.8

Kadoma

25

1

-

-

26

2.9

Marondera

16

-

2

-

18

2.0

Masvingo

23

 

-

-

23

2.6

Total

844

22

27

7

900

100

Percentages may not add up to 100 in this and subsequent tables due to rounding.

Of the 900 respondents, 66 percent were male and 34 percent were female. The uneven gender distribution reflects the fact that males have generally had greater access to the educational system and the higher end of the labour market than females. This is slowly changing but is still very evident in the gender profile of the educated class. The survey also suggested that the skills base of Zimbabwe is quite youthful with 79 percent of the respondents aged below 35 years (Table 4.3) and only 3 percent over 50. This is a reflection of another legacy – the colonial system which provided limited opportunities for the black population.

Table 4.3: Age and Sex of Professionals Age

Age

Sex

Total

Male

Female

No.

%

15-24

136

126

262

29.1

25-34

313

132

445

49.4

35-49

122

45

167

18.6

50-59

18

5

23

2.6

Above 60

3

-

3

0.3

Total

592

308

900

100

Fifty percent of the respondents were married, 44 percent single, 2 percent divorced, 1 percent separated, and 2 percent cohabiting. The relatively high number of respondents who are not married can be attributed to the generally youthful nature of the Zimbabwean skills base. Forty-two percent of the respondents were household heads, 21 percent were children of household heads and 17 percent spouses of household heads. In addition, 46 percent of the respondents had no children, 21 percent had only one child and 17 percent had two children. Almost a quarter of the respondents (24 percent) had no economic dependants, while 56 percent of the respondents had between one and four dependants. In other words, at the time of the survey, Zimbabwe’s remaining black professionals were generally quite young and not encumbered by long professional or career service or family commitments. With their best working years still before them, these young professionals, like those anywhere, were inherently likely to be more mobile than their older and more established counterparts.

While this group of skilled people generally earned higher salaries than the rest of the working population, they were still not particularly well-off. At the time of the survey, about 22 percent still earned less than Z$11,000 a month. A further 18 percent earned between Z$11,000 and Z$17,000, while only 23 percent earned above Z$41,000. At the time, the poverty datum line was pegged at Z$17,000 (about US$312) for a family of six.9

The student survey was part of a broader regional SAMP initiative known as the Potential Skills Base Survey (PSBS).10 In Zimbabwe, the PSBS focused on the attitudes of final-year students from universities and colleges. The university students were from the faculties of Law, Science, Engineering, Commerce, Medicine/Pharmacy and Arts & Humanities. The colleges included technical, commercial and teacher training institutions located in several urban centres. Almost all the students were registered full-time with very few studying on a part-time basis. Just over half were registered for undergraduate degrees, while 40 percent were studying for certificates/diplomas at the various polytechnics and training colleges. A few students were studying for postgraduate degrees (5 percent).

The gender breakdown of the sample was predominantly male (62 percent), reflecting ongoing gender inequality in access to higher education and the professions. Over half of the students were below the age of 24. Just over a third had their homes in the rural areas (33 percent in rural communal areas and 2 percent in commercial farming areas). The other two-thirds were from urban areas, especially the large towns and cities (47 percent). The majority of the students (76 percent) were single, 18 percent were married, 3 percent previously married but now single, and only 3 percent cohabiting. In contrast to professionals, very few students had dependants; as many as 63 percent had none at all.

Table 4.4: Demographic Profile of Students

 

No.

%

Sex

 

 

Male

747

62.4

Female

451

37.6

Age

 

 

23 years or less

699

58.8

24 years and more

490

41.2

Race

 

 

Black

1,154

96.7

White

10

0.9

Coloured

28

2.3

Asian/Indian

2

0.2

Location of home

 

 

Rural communal area

388

32.5

Commercial farming area

26

2.2

Small town

216

18.1

Large town/city

564

47.2

Marital status

 

 

Married

216

18.0

Separated/divorced/abandoned/widowed

35

2.9

Cohabiting

36

3.0

Single

910

76.1

In sum, the students of Zimbabwe proved to be even more footloose than their young professional counterparts. This kind of profile is not unusual for the student body in any country. However, being relatively unencumbered does not necessarily mean that the first thing students think about is leaving home. Indeed, in most countries students are anxious to get a foothold in the local labour market and begin their careers, not look to leave at the earliest opportunity. The PSBS showed quite clearly that students in most SADC countries do not think this way. They feel that their chances of a satisfying life and professional career are greater if they do leave. However, the intensity of the desire, and the likelihood of leaving, set Zimbabwean students apart from their colleagues in other SADC countries.

PREDICTING SKILLS EMIGRATION

Emigration potential is a measurement of the likelihood of the skilled population leaving a country. Various parameters can be used to predict the emigration potential of skilled Zimbabweans, such as the extent to which they have considered emigrating from the country, the factors affecting their decision to move, their most likely destinations and the perceived length of stay in their most likely destination.

Both surveys indicated that the vast majority of actual and future skilled Zimbabweans had thought about emigrating. Fifty-seven percent of the professional respondents had given the possibility a great deal of consideration while 29 percent had given it some consideration. Only 13 percent had never considered emigration. An even higher proportion of students (71 percent) indicated that they had given emigration a great deal of consideration. A mere 6 percent of the students had not considered leaving at all. Gender, age and socioeconomic status made little difference to the students’ answers.

Amongst the professionals, these variables did make a difference. The survey showed that a greater proportion of female than male professionals (62 percent versus 54 percent) had seriously considered emigrating. The skilled population aged between 25 and 35 years had given the most consideration to leaving the country. There was a general increase with age in the proportion who had not considered leaving the country: only 8 percent of 16-24 year olds had not considered leaving the country, rising to 12 percent for the 25-34 age group, 21 percent for the 35-44 age group and 22 percent for the 45-54 age group. Interest in emigration therefore declines with age (Figure 4.1). Nevertheless, levels of dissatisfaction in Zimbabwe were so high that the vast majority in each age group had given serious thought to leaving.

image

Figure 4.1: Emigration Potential by Age Group

Zimbabweans had also given much more thought to emigration than their counterparts elsewhere in SADC. In comparison with Zimbabwe’s 57 percent, only 33 percent of skilled people in Lesotho had given emigration a great deal of consideration, 31 percent had done so in South Africa and only 13 percent in Botswana. Or again, while only 13 percent of skilled Zimbabweans had given no thought to leaving, the equivalent figure was 58 percent in Botswana, 32 percent in Lesotho and 31 percent in South Africa.

The potential pool of emigrants in the skilled Zimbabwean population was therefore massive and unparalleled by regional standards. However, this does not mean that all of these people will necessarily leave:

Thinking about leaving, and wanting to do it, are one thing. Actually doing so is quite another... Emigration is a formal and often lengthy process that involves obtaining official documentation, preparing applications and organizing employment opportunities, quite apart from the sheer logistics of the move. Thus people who have mentally set a specific date, or at least a time frame, for leaving are far more likely to act upon their desires than those who leave it as an open-ended question.11

The survey of skilled and professional Zimbabweans therefore sought to establish the extent to which they had a mental commitment to emigrate within a specified time frame (Table 4.5). Specifying a time frame for departure cut the levels of potential emigration, but not nearly as dramatically as one might have expected. The respondents were first asked about the likelihood of emigrating within the next six months. Just over a quarter (27 percent) said it was likely or very likely that they would leave within 6 months (the equivalent South African figure was 7 percent). Slightly more than half (55 percent) considered it likely or very likely that they would emigrate within two years (South Africa: 25 percent). In all, 67 percent indicated that they were likely or very likely to leave the country within five years (South Africa: 42 percent). In other words, in South Africa there was marked difference between the desire to leave and the stated likelihood of doing so. In Zimbabwe, this gap proved to be extremely narrow.

Table 4.5: Commitment to Emigrate Amongst Skilled Zimbabweans

 

Very Likely (%)

Likely (%)

Unlikely (%)

Very Unlikely (%)

Don’t Know (%)

Within Six Months

14

13

32

33

8

Within Two Years

19

36

19

15

11

Within Five Years

37

30

10

10

14

The students expressed an even stronger likelihood of leaving – just over half (56 percent) said that they were likely or very likely to emigrate within six months of graduating. Some 70 percent said it was likely or very likely they would leave within two years of graduating.

The firmest indicator of a person’s emigration potential is whether they have actually begun applying for emigration documentation. Despite the very high emigration potential captured by other indicators, fewer respondents had started the process of applying for emigration documents. Six percent of the skilled respondents had actually applied for a work permit in another country while 13 percent were in the process of applying. Thus, there was a potential loss of nearly 20 percent of the country’s skilled workforce to other countries in the short term. The students had gone further in their commitment to emigrating: over a quarter had already applied for, or were in the process of applying for, a work permit in another country. Around 15 percent had applied for, or were in the process of applying for, permanent residence in another country and a similar proportion were seeking citizenship in another country.

In sum, amongst both professionals and students there was a decline in the predictors of emigration as the survey moved from consideration, to likelihood, to taking active steps to leave. In other words, “as greater mental and physical commitments are required from the respondent, emigration potential declines.”12 The propensity of students to emigrate was higher than for professionals, but for both groups, all of the indicators of emigration potential were higher than those for the other countries in which SAMP conducted similar research (Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa). Particularly notable was the fact that there was only a marginal decline in Zimbabwe between desire and likelihood. Zimbabweans, as their actual behaviour confirms, are doing much more than simply thinking about leaving.

Emigration can be either temporary or permanent. Most emigrants have an idea, when they leave, about which they intend (although things may work out differently in practice; those who leave temporarily often end up staying, those who leave for good sometimes return if things do not work out as they hoped). Nevertheless, it was important to determine whether Zimbabwe’s potential emigration pool consists primarily of those who wish to leave for only a short period or those who want to go away for longer. As many as half of the skilled Zimbabweans expressed a strong desire to leave “permanently.” Only 25 percent had a strong desire to leave for a short period (less than two years). In other words, this is a population more interested in getting out of the country for good. In general, the respondents wanting to leave permanently were in the under 40 age group, had fewer dependants and were mostly single.

In contrast to many students in Southern Africa, Zimbabweans proved to be more interested in long-term emigration from the country. Some 62 percent wanted to leave for more than two years. As many as half said they would stay away for longer than five years. Many of the students said they would want to become permanent residents (60 percent) and citizens (57 percent) of their intended destination country. The figures for professionals were also high at 52 percent and 48 percent.

The preferred destination of potential skilled emigrants from Zimbabwe was North America (preferred by 34 percent), followed by Europe (29 percent) and Southern Africa (22 percent). The most popular country destinations were, in order of preference, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Botswana, South Africa, Australia/New Zealand and Canada. When it came to their most likely destination, however, Southern Africa rated more highly (at 31 percent), just below North America. This shows that, though most skilled Zimbabweans (77 percent) wished to leave the region entirely, fewer thought they would actually do so. Only Botswana and South Africa rated a mention as desirable or likely destinations. Botswana is preferred to South Africa, yet Zimbabweans felt that it was more likely that they would actually end up in South Africa, testimony to the different employment possibilities and immigration policies of the two neighbouring countries. Botswana is the preferred destination because of concerns over safety in South Africa. However, it is South Africa that remains the region’s “economic powerhouse,” and as a result is perceived to have better employment prospects. In addition, the immigration laws of South Africa are less stringent that those of Botswana, meaning that practically, it is less difficult for Zimbabwean migrants to physically enter South Africa.

The fact that more people wanted to go to Europe (mainly the UK) than thought it was likely they actually would, suggests a realistic assessment of the barriers to immigration and the harassment and discrimination that nationals from Zimbabwe have been subjected to in the UK in recent years.13 The horizons of students were a little more limited. While the majority still wanted to get out of Southern Africa (64 percent) and thought it likely that they would (61 percent), Southern Africa was also seen as both the single most desirable and the single most likely destination (36 percent and 38 percent respectively) of migration. Unlike the working professionals, students preferred Europe to North America and more thought it likely they would end up in Europe.

Table 4.6: Potential Destinations of Emigrants from Zimbabwe

 

Preferred Destination

Most Likely Destination

Skilled (%)

Students (%)

Skilled (%)

Students (%)

North America

34.0

23.8

31.5

22.3

Europe

26.5

29.1

23.2

28.2

Southern Africa

22.9

36.1

30.9

38.8

Australia/New Zealand

9.0

9.4

7.1

8.0

Other Africa

5.6

1.4

5.7

0.6

Asia

2.0

0.3

1.6

2.1

QUALITY OF LIFE IN ZIMBABWE

Why are so many skilled Zimbabweans leaving? Beyond the obvious explanation of economic collapse and political turmoil, it is useful to see what people themselves feel about their quality of life in Zimbabwe. The country’s recent economic travails led to rampant inflation and shortages of consumer goods. By 2001, skilled Zimbabweans still in the country were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the cost of living (89 percent), level of taxation (83 percent), availability of quality affordable products (75 percent), and level of income (72 percent) (Table 4.7). But the dissatisfaction went much deeper. The upkeep of public amenities was a source of dissatisfaction for 74 percent, as was the perceived future for children (71 percent), housing availability (69 percent), medical services (61 percent) and education (57 percent). Over half were dissatisfied with their own safety and that of their family, a response to the poverty-driven growth of crime in Zimbabwe.

The pessimism of many respondents was confirmed in questions asking whether they thought that conditions would improve in the following five years (Table 4.8). Most skilled Zimbabweans in 2001 thought that conditions in the country would get worse, a prediction that was to be only too accurate. Seventy-two percent felt the cost of living would increase and 71 percent thought that the level of taxation would increase, while 67 percent thought that the upkeep of public amenities would decline and 66 percent were worried about the future of their children. They predicted, again correctly, that the high inflation levels in the country would persist and that the level of taxation would remain high. Similarly, the majority of respondents felt that social conditions in the country would deteriorate including public amenities (67 percent said they would get worse), their children’s future (66 percent), suitable housing (62 percent), medical services (62 percent) and schooling (55 percent).

Table 4.7: Satisfaction with the Quality of Life in Zimbabwe

Dissatisfied/Very Dissatisfied with:

Skilled (%)

Economic Circumstances Cost of living

 

Cost of living

89

Level of taxation

83

Availability of quality affordable products

75

Level of income

72

Share of taxes compared to others

64

Job

46

Prospects for professional advancement

46

Job security

45

Social Circumstances Upkeep of public amenities

 

Upkeep of public amenities

74

Children’s future in country

71

Ability to find a suitable house

69

Ability to find adequate medical services

61

Ability to find a good school for children

57

Family’s safety

56

Personal safety

56

Customer service

53

When the students were asked the same question, their answers smacked more of despair than pessimism. On virtually every measure, over three-quarters thought that conditions would get worse or much worse in the ensuing five years. They were particularly negative about the HIV and AIDS situation (89 percent thought it would get worse), taxation (88 percent), the upkeep of public amenities (87 percent) and the availability of suitable housing (86 percent). Around 80 percent were concerned about a deterioration in the safety situation, their ability to find a decent job and the cost of living.

Table 4.8: Perceptions of Future Conditions in Zimbabwe

Expected to get Worse/Much Worse in the next 5 years

Skilled (%)

Students (%)

Economic Circumstances

 

 

Cost of living

72

80

Level of taxation

71

88

Availability of quality affordable products

67

84

Level of income

58

75

Share of taxes compared to others

57

88

Job security

47

79

Ability to find desired job

44

80

Prospects for professional advancement

41

72

Social Circumstances

 

 

Upkeep of public amenities

67

87

Children’s future in Zimbabwe

66

81

Ability to find a suitable house

62

86

Ability to find adequate medical services

62

82

Ability to find a good school for children

55

79

Family’s safety

53

83

Personal safety

52

82

Customer service

51

83

HIV and AIDS situation

-

89

The respondents were then asked to compare conditions in Zimbabwe with those in their most likely destination (MLD). The conditions that proved to be comparatively most attractive to prospective emigrants include the lower cost of living, prospects for professional advancement, availability of quality affordable products and higher incomes in their MLDs (Table 4.9). Better public amenities, medical services and customer services were seen as the most important social differences between Zimbabwe and the MLD. Interestingly, only half thought that they and their families would be safer in their MLD. This is because so many Zimbabweans see South Africa as their MLD and are very aware of the threat of criminal and xenophobic violence. On every single measure, the students said that conditions would be better in their MLD than did the skilled respondents.

Table 4.9: Comparison Between Zimbabwe and Most Likely Destination

Better/Much Better in Most Likely Destination

Skilled (%)

Students (%)

Economic Conditions

 

 

Cost of living

88

91

Level of income

87

93

Availability of quality affordable products

86

90

Ability to find desirable job

82

81

Prospects for professional advancement

79

82

Level of taxation

73

79

Share of taxes compared to others

65

-

Job security

59

71

Social Conditions

 

 

Upkeep of public amenities

74

79

Ability to find adequate medical services

74

85

Customer service

71

81

Future of children

66

68

Ability to find a good school for children

60

72

Ability to find suitable housing

59

71

Personal safety

49

69

Family’s safety

49

69

Levels of student dissatisfaction about economic conditions in Zimbabwe were higher than in any other SADC country surveyed (Table 4.10). Only 3 percent were satisfied with their personal economic condition and less than 35 percent were optimistic that conditions would improve in the next five years. Less than 1 percent were satisfied with economic conditions in the country and only 20 percent expected to see any improvement within five years.

The 2001 survey also revealed enormous dissatisfaction with government amongst skilled Zimbabweans. Only 11 percent of the respondents approved/strongly approved of the way the government had performed its job in the previous year. Only 12 percent said they could always trust the government to do what is right, while a mere 15 percent believed that the people in government was interested in hearing what they have to say. Over 80 percent of skilled Zimbabweans believed that they are unfairly treated by the government. These are extraordinarily high levels of dissatisfaction by any standard.

Table 4.10: Student Satisfaction/Expectations about Economic Conditions

 

No.

Students(%)

Satisfaction with current personal economic conditions

 

 

Very satisfied

8

0.7

Satisfied

28

2.4

Expectations of personal economic conditions in 5 years

 

 

Much better

174

14.6

Better

238

19.8

Satisfaction with current economic conditions in Zimbabwe

 

 

Very satisfied

4

0.3

Satisfied

6

0.5

Expectations of economic conditions in Zimbabwe in 5 years

 

 

Much better

57

4.8

Better

185

15.4

CONCLUSION

The dimensions and reasons for the brain drain from Zimbabwe have been well- documented in other SAMP work.14 In this chapter, we have focused on the attitudes of skilled people towards life in Zimbabwe. For if the skilled population is essentially contented and giving no thought to emigration, then we could safely say that the brain drain is a passing phenomenon which will soon draw to a close. In fact, the primary finding of the two studies reviewed here is exactly the opposite. Zimbabwe’s skilled population proved to be not only highly discontented with domestic economic, social and political conditions, but also extremely pessimistic about the possibility of positive change. The net result is a population with an extremely high emigration potential. The surge of out-migration from the country after these surveys were taken suggests that attitudes translated quickly into actions.

Various measures have been mooted by government with a view to keeping people in the country, including compulsory national service and bonding. The coercive approach to the brain drain has not worked particularly well elsewhere, so it is worth asking whether it is likely to have any impact in Zimbabwe. The research showed that such measures could have the opposite effect to that intended, further adding to the burden of discontent that is encouraging so many to leave or think of leaving. The majority of the skilled population in the country has an extremely high emigration potential, and should their plans be realised, the country stands to suffer, perhaps irreparably.

NOTES

1 S. Commander, M. Kangasniemi and L. Winters, “The Brain Drain: Curse or Boon? A Survey of the Literature” Paper presented at CEPR/NBER/SNS International Seminar on International Trade, Stockholm, May 2002.

2 A. Adepoju, “Perspectives on Migration for Development in a Globalized World System” Paper presented at Sixth International Metropolis Conference, Rotterdam, 2001.

3 N. Harris, Thinking the Unthinkable: The Immigration Myth Exposed (London: IB Taurus, 2002), p. 87.

4 L. Zinyama, “International Migration to and From Zimbabwe and the Influence of Political Changes on Population Movements, 1965-1987” International Migration Review 24 (1990), pp. 748-67.

5 L. Zinyama, “Cross-Border Movement from Zimbabwe to South Africa” In L. Zinyama and D. Tevera, Zimbabweans on the Move: Perspectives on International Migration from Zimbabwe, SAMP Migration Policy Series No. 25, Cape Town, 2002, pp. 26-41; R. Gaidzanwa, “Voting With Their Feet: Migrant Zimbabwean Nurses and Doctors in the Era of Structural Adjustment” Research Report No. 111, Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Uppsala, 1999.

6 D. Tevera and J. Crush, The New Brain Drain from Zimbabwe, SAMP Migration Policy Series No. 29, Cape Town, 2003.

7 C. Chetsanga, An Analysis of the Cause and Effect of the Brain Drain in Zimbabwe, Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre, Harare, 2002; A. Chikanda, “Medical Migration in the Post-ESAP Era: Magnitude, Causes and Impact on the Poor” Development Southern Africa 24(1) (2004): 47-60.

8 “Brain Drain Reaches Unacceptable Level” Financial Gazette, July 17-23, 2003.

9 In 2001, 1 Zimbabwean dollar bought an average of 0.01834 US dollars at the official exchange rate.

10 J. Crush, W. Pendelton and D. Tevera, Degrees of Uncertainty: Students and the Brain Drain in Southern Africa SAMP Migration Policy Series No. 35, Cape Town 2005.

11 R. Mattes and W. Richmond, “The Brain Drain: What Do Skilled South Africans Think?” In D. McDonald and J. Crush, Destinations Unknown: Perspectives on the Brain Drain in Southern Africa (Pretoria: Africa Institute, 2002), pp. 17-46.

12 Ibid, p. 32.

13 Bloch (in this volume).

14 Zinyama and Tevera, Zimbabweans on the Move.

THE BIGGEST REWARD

I graduated in 1988 and left Zimbabwe in 1991. At that time you could see that we were beginning to struggle. In terms of patient care and supply of basic drugs and equipment, it was not too bad at that point in time. But you could see that things were really going down. I had completed my two year housemanship in 1989-90, and I saw that for me also, as somebody who had gone this far in life and I was educated, I felt that I was really not making that much headway in terms of raising a family to the extent that I thought I should raise it. So maybe that’s what basically pushed me out. I was two years post-qualification but I was still struggling as a doctor, struggling to make it you know. I could not afford decent transport to go to work, let alone afford to buy a house.

It was very easy at that time to get a job in South Africa as it was beginning to come out of international isolation. Health was given a top priority. They imported a lot of health care professionals from other countries and the nurses and the doctors were mainly going to the rural areas, places that had been ignored by the previous regime. So obtaining a job was really easy because they were desperate for doctors. Even completing the immigration formalities was very easy – it could be done swiftly.

It was tough at first when I arrived but the rural area was not as rural as the rural areas in Zimbabwe. It was not deeply rural. But that was a positive step in that you felt that you were being rewarded for your effort at getting an education. The salaries were not bad – you could afford to buy a car at least. Accommodation was provided for by the hospital and it was very good. Fortunately, I was posted in a hospital that is in the Northern Province, next to the Zimbabwean border. It was a Shangaan speaking community and we share a lot of common words. So it was very easy to learn the local language and within no time people could not tell that I was not Shangaan. The way that I spoke the language – it was so fluent. So that was a plus for me because I found it very easy to integrate because the language barrier was not that much of a problem. Initially it was but I eventually managed to overcome it.

After working for three years in the Northern Provinces, I felt that I was ready to move on so that I could specialise. That’s how I ended up in Johannesburg. I specialised in Radiology. After specialising I worked in government at a provincial hospital and then I went into private practice. At first it was quite demanding because of the long working hours. The one thing that I am so grateful for about coming to South Africa is the fact that I have managed to specialise. To begin with, in Zimbabwe there are no specialist schools for radiologists. To specialise in radiology you have to go elsewhere. Even in Africa there are just a few countries where you can specialise as a radiologist. For me that was the highlight of my life. I am so grateful and so happy to have achieved this. I think that was the biggest reward for my move to South Africa.

image

Chapter Five
Nursing the Health System:
The Migration of Health Professionals
from Zimbabwe

Abel Chikanda

The brain drain of health professionals from Zimbabwe has had a crippling effect on the country’s public health system.1 The migration of doctors and nurses has been driven by a marked deterioration in working conditions and job prospects at home and unprecedented global opportunities for professional mobility. The poor salaries paid to local professionals compared to those in developed countries have hastened the exodus. By 2000, Zimbabwe had become a leading source country for health professionals, with 51 percent of locally-trained doctors and 25 percent of locally-trained nurses practising abroad.2 The growing migration of nurses has had a particularly negative impact on primary patient care. Nurses form the backbone of any health service delivery and their out-migration exacerbates the primary health care crisis in sending countries like Zimbabwe.

In Zimbabwe, the quality of care declined markedly as nurses left the country in growing numbers.3 Patient waiting times increased and the nurses that remained had to cope with heavier workloads. Nurses working in rural areas have been forced into an expanding role, taking on the responsibilities of pharmacist, doctor, physiotherapist and so forth.4 Heavy workloads, besides being a manifestation of poor staffing levels, have been an additional motivation to migrate. Nurse migration leads to the appointment of replacement workers in positions for which they are not trained. Other negative impacts include heavy workloads resulting in poor service provision to the public and the loss of financial investments made in educating the nurses.5 The stress of handling HIV and AIDS-related deaths on a daily basis also takes its toll on the nurses who remain.6

This chapter examines the causes, dimensions and impacts of nurse migration from Zimbabwe during the period of the late 1990s and early 2000s, drawing on research conducted by the author for the World Health Organization. The research sought to examine the magnitude of, and trends in, the migration of nurses and midwives from the country, establish the effects of the migration on the country’s quality of healthcare, identify the causes of migration, and recommend measures for reducing out-migration. All of the evidence suggests that the trends in nurse migration identified in this period have intensified since the research was conducted.

TRENDS IN NURSE MIGRATION

Two main survey instruments were used to collect data for this study. The first aimed to collect information on staffing patterns and workloads at health institutions. Stratified random sampling was employed in selecting healthcare facilities. Seven of Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces were randomly selected. In each of these provinces, the main provincial town or city was chosen together with one district health institution and one health centre. In addition, two schools of Nursing and Midwifery were selected; these are located at Harare and Mpilo Central Hospitals. A questionnaire was distributed to each of the health institutions for completion by the hospital superintendent. Only 10 of the 21 health institutions provided information on both staffing patterns and the workload of nursing professionals.

The second research instrument was designed to collect information from individual nursing professionals on a wide range of issues including general working conditions and migration intentions. The individual nurses were drawn from the selected health institutions using stratified random sampling. The number of nurses from each health institution was proportional to the total number employed there. One hundred and fifty-seven questionnaires were administered (Table 5.1). The vast majority of the respondents were nurses (87 percent). The rest were midwives. Both had been trained at nurse training centres scattered throughout the country and most held diploma qualifications. Only 3 percent were holders of a Bachelor’s degree qualification and 1 percent a Master’s degree. Twenty percent of the respondents were male, and 80 percent were female showing the dominance of women in the nursing profession in Zimbabwe. The majority of the respondents were married (68 percent) while 21 percent were single, 6 percent widowed and 5 percent divorced. Only 31 percent of the sample were younger than 30. In other words, the majority of those surveyed were experienced professionals with strong family ties to Zimbabwe.

Table 5.1: Profile of Nurses

 

%

Sex

Male

20

Female

80

Marital Status

Married

68

Divorced

5

Single

21

Widowed

6

Age Group

20 years and below

3

21-30

28

31-40

34

41-50

17

51-60

6

No Response

12

N = 157

The large-scale movement of Zimbabwean nurses out of the country is a relatively recent phenomenon. Until the early 1990s, Zimbabwe’s economy was performing well and the salaries of nurses were comparatively decent. However, the introduction of the structural adjustment programme (SAP) in 1991 at the behest of the IMF and World Bank resulted in deteriorating conditions in the health sector. Faced with rising inflation and declining salaries in real terms, nurses initially adopted a combative approach, engaging in strike action in an attempt to press the government to give them living wages and improve their conditions of service. However, high inflation quickly eroded any wage gains made by the nurses.

The government responded by introducing legislation that made it illegal for health professionals, as providers of essential services, to engage in strike action. Living conditions deteriorated further in the late 1990s as donor support from Western nations dried up after the Mugabe government embarked on its controversial land reform programme. Political repression and persecution also grew as the regime’s rule came under challenge for the first time since independence. Unable to eke out a decent living, nurses abandoned confrontation and “voted with their feet” by migrating to other countries.7 According to one study, nurses were “not interested in political confrontations and struggles which might derail them from focusing on the well-being of their households. By leaving they condemned the political and economic present as inadequate for meeting their needs.”8

Table 5.2: Distribution of Zimbabwe-Trained Nurses, 2005

Location

No.

% of Total

% of those Abroad

Domestic (i.e. in Zimbabwe)

11,640

75.8

-

UK

2,834

18.4

76.1

USA

440

2.9

11.8

Australia

219

1.4

5.9

South Africa

178

1.2

4.8

Canada

35

0.2

0.9

Portugal

14

0.1

0.4

Spain

3

-

0.1

Total Abroad

3,723

24.2

100

Total

15,363

100

100

Source: M. Clemens and G. Petterson, A New Database for Health Professional Emigration from Africa (Washington D.C: Centre for Global Development, 2005).

Most of those who initially migrated were more experienced nurses with skills that were marketable abroad, leaving behind junior and less-experienced staff. The early wave went to South Africa, but the post-SAP era saw more Zimbabwean nurses migrating to Western countries (Table 5.2). The change in destination to countries outside the African continent is explained by the shortages of registered nurses in many developed countries.9 These countries are faced with an ageing population and they need to care for an increasing number of elderly people.10 There has also been a reduction in the number of people enrolling in nursing programmes in developed countries, creating severe nursing shortages. In addition, some countries, such as Canada, have experienced their own nurse “brain drain” to the United States.

Western countries have sought to solve their nursing shortages by aggressively recruiting professionals from developing countries such as Zimbabwe. Independent and government-supported recruitment and relocation agencies act as middlemen who initiate contact with prospective employers and manage the subsequent transfer of the professionals to the new destination.11 Nurse migration has left most of Zimbabwe’s health institutions with a skeleton staff struggling to cope with increased workloads and growing demands on their expertise.

image

Figure 5.1: Zimbabwean Health Professionals in the UK, 1995-2003

The United Kingdom became the leading destination for nurses and other health professionals from Zimbabwe in the late 1990s. The number of Zimbabwean health professionals in the United Kingdom increased dramatically as political and economic conditions in Zimbabwe deteriorated (Figure 5.1). From a mere 76 health professionals migrating to the UK from Zimbabwe in 1995, the figure increased to 2,825 in 2003. Nurses comprised the majority of these professionals. For instance, of the 2,825 work permits offered to Zimbabwean health professionals in 2002-03, 2,346 (83%) went to nurses.12 In 2003, Zimbabwe was the UK’s fourth largest supplier of overseas nurses, after the Philippines, India and South Africa.

image

Figure 5.2: Registered Nurses in Zimbabwe, 1995-200115

There were two distinct channels of nurse migration from Zimbabwe to the UK in the late 1990s. Some nurses moved through recruitment agencies, which also covered relocation expenses. Others moved as temporary visitors or “political refugees.” The latter often ended up in non-nursing jobs or were employed in nursing homes that did not require them to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

The exact magnitude of nurse migration from Zimbabwe is difficult to establish because of a lack of reliable data. Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MoHCW) has no proper mechanisms to monitor the loss of professionals through migration, death or retirement. In the absence of proper statistics, an analysis of trends in registration figures provides useful insights on the magnitude of nurse migration from Zimbabwe. Data from the Central Statistical Office (CSO) shows that the number of registered nursing professionals available in the country was stable up to the late 1990s, when a significant decline was experienced. For instance, while there were 15,476 Registered Nurses (RNs) in Zimbabwe in 1998, only 12,477 remained by December 2001 (Figure 5.2).14

While there were some marginal increases in nursing categories such as midwives and psychiatric nurses, in other categories dramatic declines were recorded (Table 5.3). For instance, though there were 5,946 State Certified Nurses in 1997, by 2000 only 4,101 remained (a decline of 31 percent). The same trend can be observed for other categories such as State Certified Maternity Nurses and Paediatric Nurses, where net losses of 17 percent and 9 percent respectively were recorded.

image

Figure 5.3: Zimbabwean Nurses Registered in the United Kingdom, 1998-200716

Table 5.3: Registered Nurses, 1997-2000

 

1997

1998

1999

2000

Midwives

3,656

3,840

4,264

4,250

Psychiatric Nurses

496

525

550

547

State Certified Nurses

5,946

5,927

4,773

4,101

State Certified Maternity Nurses

3,912

3,922

3,572

3,257

Paediatric Nurses

22

23

20

20

Source: Central Statistical Office (CSO), Zimbabwe: Facts and Figures 2001/2002 (Harare, 2003).

The loss of nurses and midwives from Zimbabwe’s health sector was reflected in a corresponding increase in the number of Zimbabwean-trained nurses in the UK. For instance, while 52 nurses were registered by the NMC in 1998-99, as many as 485 were on the register in 2002-03 (Figure 5.3). The actual figure was much higher, especially given the fact that some Zimbabwean-trained nurses are employed in other jobs where they are not required to register with the NMC. Between 2003 and 2007, the number of nurses registered fell to under 100.

image

Figure 5.4: The Stepwise Migration of Zimbabwean Nurse Professionals

The shortage of nurses in Zimbabwe’s health sector became more severe in public health institutions than in privately-run ones. In fact, a considerable number of nurses in Zimbabwe moved to the private sector which offered better remuneration and other conditions of service. In 1997, the public sector employed only 7,923 nurses out of a total requirement of 14,251 (or 56 percent), when the country had 16,407 RNs.17 The privately-run health institutions thus employed 8,484 (or 51 percent) of all the RNs in the country, mostly in the urban areas.

The survey found that there was considerable stepwise migration in the behaviour of Zimbabwean nurses (Figure 5.4). In stepwise migration, a horizontal move is undertaken with the intention of assisting in a vertical or outward movement. In the case of Zimbabwean nurses, the “sideways” internal move to the private sector meant better salaries and increased opportunities to migrate to an overseas destination. Nurses initially moved to the private sector to enable them to save the necessary airfares, which eventually facilitated their move abroad. Besides being paid better, nurses employed in the private sector had better access to information due to their mainly urban location. When the nurses moved to the private sector, they thus increased their chances of moving abroad.

Not all nurses were involved in stepwise migration. In some cases, nurses migrated directly from the public sector to the UK. Friends and relatives residing abroad played a facilitating role by purchasing the air ticket for the prospective migrant and hosting them on arrival. In some cases, nurses employed in rural areas with good information networks also moved directly to an international destination. This is consistent with other findings that it is no longer necessary for international migration to have a national prologue, that is, the preliminary transfer to urban areas that was the classic launching pad for international migration until a few years ago.18

IMPACTS OF NURSE MIGRATION

The public sector is the principal provider of healthcare in most African countries, including Zimbabwe. Information from the MoHCW on the staffing situation in the country’s public health institutions showed a general decline in nurse employment in the 1990s (Figure 5.5). The number of nurses employed in the public health sector fell by nearly 20 percent, from 8,662 in 1996 to 7,007 in 1999. This decline occurred at a time when the country’s training institutions produced 1,370 new nurses. While some nurses might have left the public sector through attrition (such as retirement and death), or moved to the private sector or left nursing altogether, a significant part of the decline is attributable to out-migration.

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Figure 5.5: Number of Nurses in the Public Health Sector, 1991-2000

The MoHCW’s nursing staff requirements for 1997 stood at 14,251, but only 56 percent of the posts were filled. Evidence that movement from the public to the private sector was occurring can be gauged from changes in the share of nurses employed in the public sector. The public sector share of nurses in Zimbabwe fell significantly from 58 percent in 1996 to 45 percent in 1999 (Figure 5.6). The number of nurses registered nationally also provides corroborating evidence. The number rose marginally from 15,096 in 1995 to 15,476 in 1999 (an increase of 2.5 percent), while the number of nurses employed in public health institutions declined from 8,635 in 1995 to 7,007 in 1999 (a reduction of 19 percent).

The departure of nursing professionals for the private sector and through emigration led to serious staff shortages in public sector health institutions and an increase in the number of vacant posts. Harare Central Hospital, for instance, employed 676 nurses in 1998 and 594 in 2000 (Table 5.4). The dramatic increase in the number of vacant posts in 2000 was partially due to an increase in the number of established posts from 794 to 934. Gweru Provincial Hospital as well as Kadoma District Hospital, on the other hand, experienced marginal growth in the number of nurses employed during the period studied. Both also recorded an increase in the number of vacant posts owing to the allocation of additional established posts.

image

Figure 5.6: Public versus Private Sector Share of Nurses

Two main factors explain the large number of vacant posts in large urban areas compared to smaller centres. First, nurses in large centres (like Harare) were lured to join the private sector, which offered better returns. Private practices are more prevalent in these urban areas. Second, increased flows of information and easy access to communication networks in urban areas exposed the nurses to job opportunities in developed countries, both regionally and overseas.

The survey of in-country nursing professionals revealed enormous dissatisfaction with working conditions. As many as 67 percent of public sector nurses were considering a move to the private sector. The most common reasons given were better remuneration and working conditions. Even those who had chosen to remain in the public sector said that they were often involved in “moonlighting” in private health institutions.

Table 5.4: Nurse Staffing Patterns at Selected Public Health Institutions

 

 

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

Harare Central Hospital

Established Posts

-

-

-

794

794

934

Number at Post

-

-

-

676

606

594

Vacant Posts

-

-

-

118

188

340

Gweru Provincial Hospital

Established Posts

236

242

242

242

242

242

Number at Post

231

230

237

238

232

235

Vacant Posts

5

12

5

4

10

7

Kadoma District Hospital

Established Posts

-

108

112

116

119

119

Number at Post

-

105

90

105

113

112

Vacant Posts

-

3

22

11

6

7

Epworth Poly Clinic

Established Posts

-

-

-

7

7

7

Number at Post

-

-

-

5

5

4

Vacant Posts

-

-

-

2

2

3

Mutare Provincial Hospital

Established Posts

195

195

195

195

195

202

Number at Post

188

190

195

191

185

190

Vacant Posts

7

5

0

4

10

12

Kariba District Hospital

Established Posts

34

34

34

34

34

34

Number at Post

24

24

24

24

24

24

Vacant Posts

10

10

10

10

10

10

Nyanga District Hospital

Established Posts

-

-

-

-

-

58

Number at Post

-

-

-

-

-

54

Vacant Posts

-

-

-

-

-

4

Waverly Clinic

Established Posts

5

5

6

6

6

6

Number at Post

2

2

2

3

2

2

Vacant Posts

3

3

4

3

4

4

Rimuka Maternity Clinic

Established Posts

15

15

15

15

20

20

Number at Post

4

4

10

10

11

11

Vacant Posts

11

11

5

5

9

9

Nyameni Clinic

Established Posts

16

16

16

16

16

16

Number at Post

11

11

13

13

13

13

Vacant Posts

5

5

3

3

3

3

As many as 71 percent of the nurses were considering leaving the country. Their most likely destination (MLD) was the UK (30 percent) (Table 5.5). However, a quarter of the respondents (24 percent) preferred destinations within Africa (mostly South Africa followed by Botswana). Other fairly popular destinations cited by the respondents included Australia (6 percent), the USA (3 percent), New Zealand (3 percent) and Canada (3 percent). Even though intentions do not automatically translate into actions, the extent of dissatisfaction in the public health sector was clearly massive.

Table 5.5: Most Likely Destinations of Zimbabwean Migrants

Most Likely Destination

%

United Kingdom

30

Another Country in Africa

24

Australia

6

United States of America

3

New Zealand

3

Canada

3

Other

2

Not Thinking of Moving

29

N = 157

The study sought to establish the reasons why nurses wanted to migrate. It hypothesized that declining economic conditions would be the primary cause of emigration in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Political factors also gained greater prominence, as the country’s major political parties fought fierce battles, first in the 2000 parliamentary elections, and then in the 2002 presidential elections. The campaigns were associated with widespread violence, which was more severe in rural areas. This saw many professionals fleeing for their own safety as well as for that of their children. The working conditions of health professionals are critical to their migration decisions. A study in 1999 revealed that health professionals in Zimbabwe were extremely disgruntled with their working conditions. Professional factors also influenced the decision to emigrate.

Table 5.6: Reasons for Intention to Move

Reason

%

Economic

55.6

To save money quickly to buy a car, pay off a home loan, or for a similar reason

56.7

Because of a general decline in the economic situation in this country

56.1

Because I will receive better remuneration in another country

54.1

Political

31.2

Because I see no future in this country

47.8

Because there is a general sense of despondency in this country

24.2

Professional

29.3

Because of a lack of resources and facilities within the health care system of this country

47.8

Because there is a general decline in the health care services of this country

43.3

Because the workload in the health services of this country is too heavy

42.7

To gain experience abroad

31.8

Because of insufficient opportunities for promotion and self-improvement

29.9

Because of the poor management of the health services in this country

29.9

Because I need to upgrade my professional qualifications due to the unsatisfactory quality of education and training in this country

21.0

Because I cannot find a suitable job in this country

11.5

Because an unacceptable work tempo is expected of me in this country

9.6

Because I was recruited to work in the country I intend to move to

8.3

Social

24.8

To find better living conditions

47.8

Because the value systems in this country have declined to such an extent that I can no longer see my way clear to remain here

34.4

To ensure a safer environment for my children

25.5

Because of the high levels of violence and crime in this country

21.7

To join family/friends abroad

16.6

To travel and see the world

15.3

Because of family related matters

9.6

N = 157

Note: More than one answer permitted

The survey showed that economic factors dominated the desire to migrate. They included the wish to save money quickly for use in Zimbabwe (mentioned by 57 percent), the general economic decline (56 percent) and the desire for better remuneration (54 percent). The growth of a parallel market for foreign currency exchange on the domestic market made it even more attractive for nursing professionals to move to countries in the developed world to accumulate savings. Professional factors influencing emigration included the lack of resources and facilities within the healthcare system of the country (48 percent), heavy workloads (43 percent) and insufficient opportunities for promotion and self-improvement (30 percent). Major social factors included the desire to find better living conditions (48 percent), the desire to ensure a safer environment for their children (26 percent) and the high levels of crime and violence in the country (22 percent).

Most nurses in Zimbabwe are officially supposed to be on duty for between 31 and 40 hours a week (i.e. about 8 hours a day). However, due to staffing problems, some end up working up to 4 extra hours a day. In the study, some were on duty for more than 50 hours weekly, 10 hours more than the stipulated national average. This is because the shortage of nurses in the country’s public health institutions has increased the workload of those who choose to remain. As many as 78 percent of the nurses expressed dissatisfaction over the number of patients they attend to per day, which they regard as extremely high. They blamed emigration for the increase. The migration of nurses is thus both a cause of ongoing migration (by increasing the workloads of remaining health professionals) and an effect (due to the reduction of available health professionals).

The shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe has also affected service delivery in most health institutions, which rely on drugs and equipment that are mostly imported from other countries. Nearly 80 percent of the nurses indicated that they lack basic equipment, such as needles and thermometers, at their health institutions. The absence of such basic equipment makes it difficult for nurses to conduct their duties efficiently and negatively affects morale.

Zimbabwe is one of several Sub-Saharan African countries badly affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, with an estimated 25–30 percent of the sexually active population infected with the virus.20 The impact of HIV/AIDS on health system workers was not specifically identified as a reason for migration.21 However, the Joint Learning Initiative identified three potential impacts of HIV/AIDS on the health workforce.22 First, the health sector is losing workers due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Nurses are dying and are not being replaced. Second, health workers are faced with extra workloads, as HIV/AIDS patients comprise a majority of their patients. Third, fear of exposure to the disease is itself a source of attrition, especially where precautionary measures are not strictly followed.

The interviews with individual nurses revealed that a sizeable number of health institutions were not taking measures to protect them from the virus. Only 60 percent of the nurses indicated that their health institutions were taking adequate precautions against HIV infection. The absence of such measures creates an unsafe environment for professionals. Not surprisingly, 64 percent said that they were constantly worried that they would become infected through an injury at work. Health workers, particularly nurses and midwives, reported a shortage of gloves which increases their risk of contracting the virus, especially when conducting deliveries. Some nurses suggested that a risk allowance be introduced. The disease has also increased the workload of health professionals, with 66 percent indicating that they find caring for HIV/AIDS patients stressful. In sum, the epidemic is clearly having a major impact on the levels of work stress and perceptions of personal risk. To that extent, it may also be a factor prompting people to move to the private sector or out of the country.

In Zimbabwe, nurses run most health centres situated in the disadvantaged rural areas. As noted, nurses working in rural areas have, over the years, taken on expanded roles as pharmacists, doctors, physiotherapists and so forth.23 This has negatively impacted on the workload of nurses, particularly those stationed in outlying regions. According to MoHCW estimates, the national nurse/patient ratio in 2000 was one nurse to 700 patients.24 This study established that only the provincial health institutions had nurse to patient ratios lower than the national average (Table 5.7). For instance, the nurse/patient ratio was 1:177 for Gweru Provincial Hospital and 1:522 for Mutare Provincial Hospital. This compares to a nurse/patient ratio of 1:1,484 at Kadoma District Hospital and 1:3,023 at Nyanga District Hospital. The situation was even worse for nurses at the health centres (where doctor visits are rare). For instance, the nurse to patient ratio at Waverly Clinic (a health centre in Kadoma) stood at 1:7,500 and at 1:10,500 for Epworth Poly Clinic (a health centre on the outskirts of Harare). Nurses employed at health centres clearly had the heaviest workloads, a situation that improved at the district and provincial health institutions level. The study also established that less qualified staff (namely nurse aides) were carrying out many nursing duties at health centres.

Table 5.7: Patient Attendance at Selected Health Institutions in Zimbabwe, 1995-2000

 

 

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

Gweru Provincial Hospital

No. of patients

143,196

126,369

39,428

40,503

40,819

41,629

No. at post

231

230

237

238

232

235

Attendance/nurse

620

549

166

170

176

177

Kadoma District Hospital

No. of patients

192,707

133,509

181,185

182,755

180,087

166,255

No. at post

112

105

90

105

113

112

Attendance/nurse

1,721

1,272

2,013

1,741

1,594

1,484

Epworth Poly Clinic

No. of patients

-

-

-

22,440

38,000

42,000

No. at post

-

-

-

5

5

4

Attendance/nurse

-

-

-

4,488

7,600

10,500

Mutare Provincial Hospital

No. of patients

-

-

-

-

-

112,562

No. at post

-

-

-

-

-

190

Attendance/nurse

-

-

-

-

-

592

Nyanga District Hospital

No. of patients

-

-

-

-

196,297

163,247

No. at post

-

-

-

-

54

54

Attendance/nurse

-

-

-

-

3635

3023

Waverly Clinic

No. of patients

8,000

9,500

9,500

10,500

11,000

15,000

No. at post

2

2

2

3

2

2

Attendance/nurse

4,000

4,750

4,750

3,500

5,500

7,500

Rimuka Maternity Clinic

No. of patients

22,000

22,000

21,000

20,000

20,000

20,000

No. at post

4

4

10

10

11

11

Attendance/nurse

5,500

5,500

2,100

2,000

1,818

1,818

Nyameni Clinic

No. of patients

-

20,821

24,009

20,608

17,915

19,243

No. at post

-

11

13

13

13

13

Attendance/nurse

-

1,893

1,847

1,585

1,378

1,480

Poor job satisfaction and low morale are endemic among health professionals in Southern Africa.25 The study showed that nurse professionals in public employment were augmenting their salaries by legal and illegal means. This included moonlighting in private health facilities and attending to non-medical businesses. The public sector is thus largely left with individuals who are poorly motivated to perform their work. However, some remained in the public sector where job security, career advancement, and opportunities for further training were greater.26

The migration of skilled health professionals from the country also adversely affected the quality of care in health institutions.27 This can generally be attributed to low morale resulting from excessive workloads and the stress of dealing with so many dying patients. The shortage of nurses has led to reduced consultation times and diagnosis and prescription of treatment are hurried. Furthermore, more than half (55 percent) of the nurses interviewed reported that they were sometimes forced to perform duties which should ideally be offered by another specialised member of the health team. This practice has had two main consequences: first, it increased the workload of nurse professionals and second, the lives of patients were endangered as general nurses ended up performing more specialised duties beyond their training or expertise.

Rural areas are particularly disadvantaged. They often do not have basic infrastructure such as all-weather roads, electricity and clean water supplies. In addition, rural health centres often lack basic drugs and equipment and are understaffed. This translates into heavy workloads for the few nurses posted in such areas. Because of such factors, the rural to urban movement of health professionals within the public sector became common and the staffing situation in rural health institutions continued to worsen. Some nurses in rural areas moved directly to private health institutions in urban areas, a move that entailed changing both geographical location and employer.

CONCLUSION

Most of the country’s public health institutions had become grossly understaffed by 2003 and the skeletal staff that remained was reeling under heavy workloads. Both urban and rural health institutions were affected by emigration, but the rural areas were hardest hit and served by un- or under-qualified health staff. The situation was better in urban areas, which had alternative sources of medical healthcare in the form of private health institutions. Besides offering better services to patients, albeit at a higher fee, the private health sector provided an escape route for disgruntled public health sector nurse professionals. But the private sector is inaccessible to the bulk of the population and also acts as a jumping-off point for migration abroad.

At the global level, piecemeal attempts have been made to reduce the migration of health professionals from developing to developed countries.28 Protocols such as the Commonwealth Code of Practice for the International Recruitment of Health Workers and its companion document cannot yield meaningful results as long as they are voluntary and non-binding. What are needed are policies that reduce the systematic recruitment of nurses by developed countries from poor countries. Of course, such policy instruments need to be sensitive to the needs of nurse professionals, for example, that advanced training can only be met by migration. The challenge then is to create a workable policy that responds to the needs of the nurses, whilst at the same time discouraging developed nations from benefitting unfairly from human resources that they did not invest financial resources in training.

The high rate of nurse emigration from Zimbabwe from the late 1990s led the government to adopt several measures to try to contain the problem. First, it introduced bonding of newly qualified nurse professionals. All nurses who started their training in 1997 and thereafter were bonded by the government for 3 years. However, after the bonding period, the nurses were free to make their own decisions about where they wanted to work. The nurses dutifully served the period of bonding and then migrated to other countries. Thus, bonding only acted as a delaying mechanism to migration and did not address its root causes. Second, fellowship and scholarship programmes, as well as advanced training programmes, were introduced to enhance the capacity of the health professionals in the provision of their services. They were also meant to reduce the migration of nurses who left to further their studies. Third, salary reviews were introduced to cushion health professionals from the effects of inflation and the high cost of living. However, with hyperinflation, the salary reviews constantly lagged behind, negatively affecting the livelihoods of health professionals. Lastly, performance management was introduced in the health sector. While performance management led to greater professional acknowledgement, the results were not generally implemented because of stiff resistance to the policy within the system.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The author wishes to thank the World Health Organization (WHO) AFRO Region for funding the study through the Division of Health Systems and Services Development. The author gratefully acknowledges the technical assistance of Professor Jane Mutambirwa in conducting the study. An earlier version of this paper appeared in Nursing Inquiry 12(3) (2005): 162-174. The author and editors are grateful to John Wiley for permission to publish a revised and updated version here.

NOTES

1 R. Gaidzanwa, Voting with their Feet: Migrant Zimbabwean Nurses and Doctors in the Era of Structural Adjustment (Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 1999); A. Chikanda, “Skilled Health Professionals’ Migration and Its Impact on Health Delivery in Zimbabwe” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 32 (2006): 667-80; A. Chikanda, “Medical Migration in the Post-ESAP Era: Magnitude, Causes and Impact on the Poor” Development Southern Africa 24(1) (2004): 47-60.

2 A. Chikanda, “The Migration of Health Professionals from Zimbabwe” In J. Connell, ed., The International Migration of Health Workers (London: Routledge, 2008), pp. 110-28.

3 A. Chikanda, “Nurse Migration from Zimbabwe: Analysis of Recent Trends and Impacts” Nursing Inquiry 12 (2005): 162-74.

4 C. Chasokela, “Policy Challenges for the Nursing Profession” Africa Policy Development Review 1 (2001): 1-6.

5 S. Bach, “Migration Patterns of Physicians and Nurses: Still the Same Story” Bulletin of the World Health Organisation 82 (2004): 625–6; J. Buchan, T. Parkin and J. Sochalski, International Nurse Mobility: Trends and Policy Implications (Geneva: World Health Organisation, 2003); Chasokela, “Policy Challenges for the Nursing Profession.”

6 D. Dovlo, Report on Issues Affecting the Mobility and Retention of Health Workers/Professionals in Commonwealth African States, Report for Commonwealth Secretariat Technical Support Group, 1999; B. Stilwell, Health Worker Motivation in Zimbabwe International Report. (Geneva: WHO, 2001).

7 Gaidzanwa, Voting with their Feet.

8 Ibid, p. 79.

9 I. Hardill and S. McDonald, “Skilled International Migration: The Experience of Nurses in the United Kingdom” Regional Studies 34 (2000): 681–92; J. Buchan, “Nurse Migration and International Recruitment” Nursing Inquiry 8 (2001): 203–4.

10 J. Buchan and J. Sochalski, “The Migration of Nurses: Trends and Policy Responses” Bulletin of the World Health Organisation 82 (2004): 587–94.

11 See C. Rogerson and J. Crush, “The Recruiting of South African Health Care Professionals” In Connell, International Migration of Health Workers, pp. 199-224.

12 D. Dovlo, “The Brain Drain in Africa: An Emerging Challenge to Health Professionals Education” Journal of Higher Education in Africa 2(3) (2004): 1-18.

13 House of Commons, “Written Answers to Questions,” House of Commons Hansard. Written Answers 418(542) (23 February 2004): Columns 251W to 262W.

14 Central Statistical Office (CSO), Zimbabwe — Facts and Figures 2001/2002 (Harare: CSO, 2003).

15 Ibid.

16 Nursing and Midwifery Council, Statistical Analysis of the Register (London, 2007).

17 Republic of Zimbabwe, Commission of Review into the Health Sector: Key Messages Report. (Harare: Government of Zimbabwe, 1999).

18 A. Montanari, “Mass Migrations: Relationships Between Africa and the European Union” In L. Buzzetti, ed., Geographical Renaissance at the Dawn of the New Millennium: The Italian Perspective (Rome: Societa Geografica Italiana, 2002), pp. 183–96.

19 Gaidzanwa, Voting with their Feet.

20 UNAIDS, HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe: USAID Brief (Silver Spring, The Synergy Project, HIV/AIDS Technical Assistance Department, 2002).

21 B. Stilwell, K. Diallo, P. Zurn, M. Dal Poz, O. Adams and J. Buchan, “Developing Evidence-Based Ethical Policies on the Migration of Health Workers: Conceptual and Practical Challenges” Human Resources for Health 1, article 8 (2003); L. Tawfik and S. Kanoti, The Impact of HIV/AIDS on the Health Workforce in Sub-Saharan Africa (Washington DC: Sara Project, USAID Bureau for Africa, 2003).

22 Joint Learning Initiative, Combating HIV/AIDS: The Global Health Workforce Crisis (Global Health Trust, 2004.

23 Chasokela, “Policy Challenges for the Nursing Profession.”

24 Republic of Zimbabwe, Commission of Review into the Health Sector.

25 G. Bloom and H. Standing, “Human Resources and Health Personnel” Africa Policy Development Review 1 (2001): 7–19.

26 D. Mutizwa-Mangiza, Doctors and the State: The Struggle for Professional Control in Zimbabwe (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999).

27 Mutizwa-Mangiza, Doctors and the State.

28 C. Paggett and A. Paradith, A Review of Codes and Protocols for the Migration of Health Workers, Equinet Discussion Paper No. 50, Harare, 2007.

BACK TO REALITY

My husband was in the Zimbabwean army but after many of his colleagues disappeared, he eventually fled. He said, “They don’t have to kill me to get my job. I’ll resign.” He left Zimbabwe on foot and sought political asylum in another African country. We didn’t hear from him for a year. Then myself and our three children joined him. We remained as refugees in that country for two years before our application to migrate to Canada was accepted. When we arrived in Toronto, a Canadian official came to interview us. He asked which part of Canada did we want to settle in. We didn’t know anybody in Canada and so it didn’t matter where he sent us. This very nice gentlemen decided to send us to his home town, a small town in Ontario. He said he loved it there and it was a good place to bring up kids. We are still here. This community has been very good to us.

We had our ups and downs and our marriage was greatly tested. For myself, I think I adjusted pretty well. I had to adapt. I came from Zimbabwe with only a high school diploma. I enrolled in the university here as a mature student for a BA in Psychology. My very first paid job was as a casual bank teller while I continued with my studies. At the same time I volunteered in several shelters. I later got casual employment with the shelters as a frontline supportive counsellor. The reserve army was advertising for recruits so I signed up just to earn some income on the weekends. This was a rough go, training and everything. I served for two years and then resigned. After I finished my degree, I worked for Corrections Canada as a correctional officer and for a while I kept my casual jobs as well.

I had heard of a woman who worked at the psychiatric hospital who had moved in a few patients into her home to look after them. I thought, “What an incredible woman. Some day when my finances permit, I will do this.” I found out that I didn’t need to wait as the patients come with their own money for rent and food. I called one organization and told them “I will take in a couple of people who have no families and look after them. In my country we do this without pay.” Later I moved my family to a house that would allow me to open a group home with three beds. My first resident was a patient they had not been able to place for 17 years and this was a great success, hence the beginning of my business. I got more and more applicants, and so I expanded.

Now I have three homes including one twenty-four-hour care home. The other two homes are for higher functioning residents. It is a lot of hard work and long hours. But I thank God every day because the income is helping me support family back home as well. Without this business, with just my psychology degree, there is just no way I could carry a mortgage, raise my children and support the family back home. When I start to whine a little bit I just have to take a quick look at the situation in Zimbabwe and I’m jolted back to reality.

image

chapter Six
Transnational Lives:
The Experience of Zimbabweans in Britain

Alice Bloch

The recent exodus from Zimbabwe has been a consequence of economic crisis and repressive policies aimed at curbing political opposition.1 The result has not only been migration to the Southern African region but also elsewhere in the world, including the United Kingdom (UK). It is not possible to accurately determine the number of Zimbabweans in the UK because of the long history of migration between the two countries – both colonial and postcolonial. Some Zimbabweans are now naturalised citizens, others have indefinite leave to remain, and some are refugees or asylum seekers. Still others have come under family reunification.

In addition, Zimbabweans come to the UK on a temporary basis through work or student visas such as the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP) which accounted for the arrival of 399 highly skilled Zimbabweans between January 2002 and September 2006.2 After 2000, there was a notable increase in the number arriving in the UK as asylum seekers or applying for asylum in-country. The difficulty in estimating numbers is exacerbated by some who remain in the UK as undocumented migrants when visas have expired or asylum claims have been rejected. Others have entered the UK on false passports.

Estimates from Home Office data place the number of Zimbabweans in the UK at less that 30,000, while at the other end of the spectrum, Zimbabwean media sources report more than one million – clearly a huge differential which questions the validity of estimates.3 What is known is that the number of Zimbabweans in Britain rose gradually from the late 1990s with people entering the UK using a variety of routes. By 2000 most of those who left Zimbabwe felt that they had been forced to leave.4 When the UK government placed visa restrictions on Zimbabweans entering the UK in 2002, in response to increasing numbers, the impact was an immediate reduction in the number able to seek asylum (Figure 6.1).

image

Figure 6.1: Zimbabwean Applications for Asylum in the UK (Excluding Dependants), 1998 to 2006

Source: K. Bennett, T. Heath and R. Jeffries, Asylum Statistics United Kingdom (London: Home Office, 2007).

The visa regime in the UK, which is part of a wider strategy to demonize asylum seekers and limit migration to all but skilled migrant workers, has been a priority of recent Labour governments.5 According to the Refugee Council, the imposition of visa requirements “represents a failure to respect the right to seek asylum [and] contradicts UNHCR’s request that states not impose visa requirements on the nationals of countries where there are civil wars, generalized violence or widespread human rights abuse.”6 The consequence of imposing visa requirements on nationals of refugee-producing countries, such as Zimbabwe, is the closure of accessible and legitimate routes for entering the UK, increasing the costs of migration and criminalizing asylum seekers who have been forced into irregular migration strategies including the use of false passports.7 In the Zimbabwean case, the very process of obtaining a visa is not only expensive but also very difficult and, on occasion, dangerous.8 Not surprisingly, Zimbabweans who arrive in the UK tend to be among the middle classes with the necessary financial resources at a time of hyper-inflation, and support and connections to afford long distance travel.9 The consequence is that the social, educational and economic characteristics of Zimbabweans in the UK are less diverse than those living in South Africa.10

This chapter draws on a sub-sample of data from 500 Zimbabweans living in the UK and is taken from a larger survey of 1,000 Zimbabweans living in the UK and South Africa. The aim is to explore the social and economic lives of Zimbabweans in the UK. More specifically, pre- and post-migration educational qualifications and employment experiences are examined to show the ways in which Zimbabweans, many of whom are highly educated and skilled on arrival to the UK, are becoming deskilled. The chapter then explores social and diasporic networks and their interaction with aspirations for return migration and interest in contributing to the development of Zimbabwe.

ZIMBABWEANS IN THE UK

There is no sampling frame available of Zimbabweans in the UK. The study therefore used snowball sampling; this is a technique for locating respondents through referrals among people who share the same characteristics. Multiple starting points from which to snowball were used, following extensive networking through organisations, individuals and different mediums (web, radio, email, word of mouth) that worked with Zimbabweans or had Zimbabwean users or clients. The data was collected between July and September 2004 using self-completion paper and web format questionnaires.11 The web version was very popular; 80 percent of respondents used this format.

Almost two-thirds of the sample were male (64.5 percent) and a third female (35.5 percent). Nearly everyone was born in Zimbabwe (95 percent) and all of those who were not born in Zimbabwe had lived there. Most were relatively recent migrants, reflecting the increase in migration since 2000: two-thirds (65 percent) had last lived continuously in Zimbabwe in 2000 or later. However, a quarter had last lived in Zimbabwe between 1994 and 1999 and 10 percent before 1994 resulting in a long period of continued residence outside Zimbabwe.

Motivations for migration were varied and the sample contained a mixed flow of migrants that included forced and other migrants. The reasons provided for leaving Zimbabwe related most frequently to the economic and political situation there (Figure 6.2). Nearly everyone (90 percent) had more than one reason for migrating, and migration routes were not necessarily indicative of the reasons for migration. People enter the UK in whatever way that they can – student visas, visits to family, on false passports – and then move in and out of categories including the asylum system when necessary or expedient. As a consequence, people on student or working visas might well have strong political motives for migration. For example, 16 percent of those on working visas said that their main reason for leaving Zimbabwe was political while 18 percent whose main reason for leaving related to economic and employment factors were refugees or asylum seekers.12

image

Figure 6.2: Reasons for Leaving Zimbabwe

At the time of the survey, the largest proportion of respondents were on working visas and a third were either UK or EU citizens or had permanent residence or leave to remain (Table 6.1). In the UK context, like elsewhere, immigration status can serve to include or exclude individuals from rights.13 These rights range from access to the regular labour market and social and welfare entitlements, to freedom of movement and freedom from deportation. Immigration status itself is not static as individuals exercise opportunities to move in and out of categories.14 Nevertheless, those at the margins, particularly asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, are largely excluded from the rights conferred on others.

Table 6.1: Current Immigration Status

 

%

Working Visa

27

Permanent Resident or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

19

British/EU Citizen

14

Student Visa

13

Asylum Seeker or Appealing Against Refusal of Asylum Case

10

Undocumented

6

Refugee Status

5

Exceptional Leave to Remain/Humanitarian Protection/Discretionary Leave

3

Other

3

N=498

Not surprisingly, there was a relationship between immigration status and length of time in the UK. The most recent arrivals, 2000 or later, were either on visas (74 percent on student and working visas had arrived in 2000 or later) or had refugee status, a humanitarian status or were going through the asylum process or appealing against a decision on their case (80 percent). In contrast, 60 percent of those with British/EU citizenship or permanent residence had been in the UK since 1999 or before.

Historically, Zimbabweans clustered in a few towns and cities. The introduction in 2000 of the policy of dispersal of asylum seekers who arrived spontaneously and needed help with accommodation resulted in a much greater geographical spread. At the time of the survey, 46 percent of respondents were living in London. Due to dispersal, immigration status was a definite factor in determining area of residence. Only 22 percent of asylum seekers and 21 percent of refugees and those with humanitarian protection were in London. Though not everyone would choose to live in London, dispersal on a no-choice basis for asylum seekers can and does limit access to job and social networks and also allows fewer opportunities to move to areas where there is employment.15

AFTER MIGRATING

A skills audit carried out by the UK Home Office found a high level of pre-migration qualifications, fluency in English and professional employment among Zimbabwean refugees.16 In this research, nearly everyone (97 percent) arrived in the UK with a qualification and among those with a qualification, 43 percent were educated either to degree or post graduate level. A further 21 percent had a Diploma in Higher Education.

More than half of the Zimbabweans in the study had obtained a formal qualification since living in the UK (54 percent). The levels of qualifications achieved were very high. Among those with a UK qualification, more than a quarter (27 percent) had a certificate, diploma or professional qualification while 69 percent had a degree or higher. In fact, 22 percent had a Masters degree and 6 percent had a Doctorate. There was a clear element of academic progression among many of those who had obtained a qualification in the UK. For example, 69 percent of those who arrived in the UK with a degree and had obtained a qualification in the UK had a post-graduate level qualification and 20 percent had a certificate, diploma or professional qualification.

Citizens and those with permanent residence were much more likely than refugees and asylum seekers to have obtained a qualification in the UK (61 percent and 41 percent respectively). Though some asylum seekers would previously have had other statuses that enabled easier access to education, those that did not would be required to pay prohibitive overseas fees. Moreover, asylum seekers have no security of status in the UK and so investing in education would not be a priority given that they might be placed in detention or deported before completing any studies.

Both prior to migration and in the UK, high rates of economic activity and low rates of unemployment were evident (Figure 6.3). Overall, there was little difference in the main activity before coming to the UK and at the time of the survey, though there were some changes at the individual level. There was a notable increase in the numbers in the UK not working for other reasons and this was largely related to restrictions imposed on asylum seekers due to their immigration status. Prior to 2002, principal asylum applicants were allowed to apply for permission to work after six months in the UK. However, the employment concession was removed. According to the government, this was partly to ensure that the asylum system was not abused by those who were looking to work rather than those with a fear of persecution and partly because it was processing asylum claims more quickly. However, the appeals process can be lengthy.17 In February 2005, the UK implemented the European Council Directive 2003/9/EC of 27 January 2003 which allows asylum seekers to apply for permission to work if they have not received an initial decision on their asylum claim after twelve months.

image

Figure 6.3: Pre- and Post-Migration Employment

Before leaving Zimbabwe, 81 percent of the sample were either employees or self-employed. An additional 9 percent had also worked at some point in the past though not immediately prior to leaving Zimbabwe. A high proportion of those surveyed worked in managerial or professional jobs (Table 6.2). Zimbabweans have higher rates of employment than ethnic minorities, on average, and other black African migrants in the UK.18

Table 6.2: Most Recent Job Prior to Emigration

 

No.

%

Managerial, Including Managing Directors

89

25.4

Teacher

49

14.0

Administration and Clerical

34

9.7

Finance: Clerks, Cashiers, Other

29

8.3

Secretary/PA

20

5.7

Nurse/Sister

17

4.9

Accountant

16

4.6

Engineering

14

4.0

Technicians/Lab Assistant

13

3.7

Lecturer

12

3.4

Health Other (Including Radiography, Pharmacy)

11

3.1

IT

10

2.9

Trades

9

2.6

Retail: Sales, Cashier and Shop Assistant

9

2.6

Consultant/Analyst

9

2.6

Doctor

9

2.6

N = 350

Unlike many other new migrants and refugees to the UK, Zimbabweans are relatively advantaged in the labour market by their likelihood of being fluent in English on arrival.19 Certainly, language has been identified as one of the main barriers affecting access to the labour market among refugees.20 In theory, therefore, English language fluency, alongside high levels of employability, should translate into easy access to sectors of the UK economy where there are shortages, especially in the professional areas such as teaching and health. However, restrictions on entering professions for those with qualifications from outside the UK mean that in many areas retraining is necessary in order to practice. This is both costly and time-consuming. As a consequence, many who arrive with professional qualifications are not using them in the UK. Half of the respondents said they had skills and experience that they had been unable to use. Despite high levels of economic activity, many Zimbabweans are therefore not working at levels commensurate with their skills and qualifications.

While managed migration policies have enabled some professional people to come to the UK through visa schemes like the HSMP, it has also “had the effect of trapping a pool of skilled people in Britain who are unable to use their skills.”21 This is due, in part, to the fact that applications for visas under the HSMP cannot be obtained in the UK. The rise in the numbers of Zimbabweans doing care work is indicative of the trend of skilled people working in lower-skilled employment. Care work has become a niche area of employment and is a sector notable for its exploitative labour market practices.22 The increase in the numbers of nurses in the sample, compared with those who were nurses in Zimbabwe, reflects the availability of nursing bursaries offered until 2002.

Table 6.3: Current or Most Recent Job in the UK

 

No.

%

Carer/Care Assistant

58

18.2

Nurse/Sister

49

15.4

All Managerial Including Managing Directors

43

13.5

Administration and Clerical

29

9.1

Teacher

24

7.5

Factory/Production Operative

24

7.5

Consultant/Analyst

21

6.6

Finance: Clerk, Cashier, Other

21

6.6

Engineering

15

4.7

Social Worker

13

4.1

Health Other (Including Pharmacist, Radiographer)

11

3.5

Secretary/Personal Assistant

10

3.1

N = 318

Prior to migration, 49 Zimbabweans had been teachers; in the UK the number had dropped to 24 (Table 6.3). Only half of the 24 practicing teachers in the UK had been teachers in Zimbabwe, so in total just under a quarter of qualified teachers from Zimbabwe were working in the same profession in the UK. Half of those had retrained in Britain and taken a degree or professional qualification. Former teachers were working well below their skills level in jobs that included carers and care assistants, factory and/or production operatives, domestic workers and waiters. Among those who said that they had skills and experience they were not using, half had a degree, post-graduate or professional diploma or certificate from the UK. Professional skills not being used in the UK included those of teachers, engineers and scientists, skilled trades, the health professions, finance and IT and technical skills. Part of the difficulty experienced by Zimbabweans in the UK labour market are the structural barriers erected by a domestic policy that affects asylum seekers in the short term and longer term, though there are also other barriers. Trying to access the labour market “readily illustrates a stratified system of inclusion and exclusion.”23

For asylum seekers, the removal of the employment concession in 2002 and the imposition of fines on employers who employ people without the correct documentation both present barriers. Moreover, early powers to prosecute employers taking on workers who are excluded from the regular labour market have been strengthened under the 2006 Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act. Asylum seekers often find that initial exclusion from the labour market can, and does, have a longer term negative impact and makes reintegration among professionals at a similar level of employment difficult.24 This study found that those who were, or had at some point been, in the asylum system, regardless of their current immigration status, were much less likely to be working than others (54 percent and 79 percent respectively). Part of the disparity lies in the restrictions placed on asylum seekers entering the regular labour market. Although this did not prevent some asylum seekers working, it did leave them vulnerable to employer exploitation.

Other factors also impact on employment experiences. Regardless of their immigration status and associated barriers, ethnic minorities in the UK are disadvantaged in the labour market due in part to discrimination. Research carried out by the UK government focussing on employment diversity and disadvantage among Britain’s ethnic minorities, has highlighted four key areas of concern and disadvantage: employment/unemployment rates, earnings levels, occupational attainment and progression in the workplace, and levels of self-employment. The research identified multiple and complex causes of disadvantage including class, geography, migration patterns and discrimination.25 Though Zimbabweans are active in the labour market, they are certainly disadvantaged in many of the key areas identified by the government research.

Average earnings are low in relation to the long hours worked. The average monthly salary, after deductions, was £1,535. Though there is a significant relationship between hours worked and levels of pay, the very nature of employment is a key factor. Secondary sector jobs are characterized by low pay and long hours and few opportunities for training and progression. Fifty-three percent of the respondents said they work for more than 40 hours a week, and 25 percent for more than 50 (Figure 6.4).

image

Figure 6.4: Numbers of Hours Worked Per Week

Zimbabweans are clearly not using their skills and qualifications, in spite of capacity building and skills enhancement in the UK through advanced study. There are a number of possible explanations for this including structural barriers and discrimination. However, those who do not see their longer-term future in the UK and/or do not have security of residence, may have more immediate priorities, notably the acquisition of money and other forms of remittances to send to Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the diaspora.

TRANSNATIONAL LIVES

Zimbabweans in the UK are active economic, social and political transnational actors. Migration can form part of a household livelihood survival strategy that brings with it commitments to send remittances to family members in Zimbabwe and elsewhere. Certainly social relations are one of the key determinants of transnational activities, though experiences in the country of residence, especially structural barriers to the labour market, can have a negative impact on transnational capabilities.26 Transnational activities can be observed and measured while capabilities refer to “the willingness and ability of migrant groups to engage in activities that transcend borders.”27 Transnational capabilities are determined, first, by identification with the social, economic and political processes in the country of origin, and secondly, by the practicalities that enable the participation in transnational activities such as the migrants’ social capital and their opportunities in the host country. Host country opportunities can be, and are, impeded by structural barriers like the exclusion from the regular labour market experienced by asylum seekers in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.28

Nearly everyone in the survey (94 percent) had close family members in Zimbabwe and all of those were in regular contact with them. Some 70 percent were in touch at least once a week; telephone calls, emails and text messaging were the most frequent modes of communication. Zimbabweans in the UK are also regular remitters of money and non-monetary support. Eighty percent of respondents remitted money to Zimbabwe and 19 percent elsewhere, indicating an active global diaspora network. Eighty percent of remitters gave supporting family members as the main reason for remitting. Twelve percent were remitting money for the main purpose of buying land or property or investing in business. A minority said that their main reason for sending money was to support friends or make charitable donations. Around three quarters (74 percent) sent non-monetary gifts, and clothes were sent by the largest proportion (87 percent). Books, electrical goods, medicines and used cars were also sent. Additionally, 79 percent provided other forms of support to family and/or friends in Zimbabwe. This included advice about moving, providing accommodation in the UK, help obtaining visas and letting others live in their home in Zimbabwe.

A number of factors influence the propensity to send remittances and other forms of support though transnational capabilities. Close links with Zimbabwe were much more influential than social and demographic factors. Immigration status has a particularly strong effect (Table 6.4). Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of those who were unemployed, and 31 percent of those not working for other reasons, were still sending money. Clearly, the structural barriers imposed through government asylum policy have had an impact on transnational transactions and affect not only Zimbabweans in the UK but also those in Zimbabwe. Those whose main reason for leaving Zimbabwe was political were less likely to be remitting than others though this did interact with immigration status, notably seeking asylum. Having close family members in Zimbabwe also affected remittance activities, which is not surprising given that most people send remittances to support families.

Remittances are sent regularly with 41 percent sending them every four weeks or less. The amount of money remitted varies, though the amounts sent most often were in the range of £100 to £199. Not surprisingly, there was a direct correlation between the amount of money remitted and income. For example, 60 percent of those earning less than £500 a month send less than £100 a month to Zimbabwe. At the other end of the income scale, only 17 percent of those in the highest earnings bracket of £2,500 or more a month send less than £100. In fact, a third (33 percent) send back £300 or more a month in remittances. For some, especially those on lower incomes and those not working, remittances accounted for a large proportion of their monthly expenses.

In addition to remittances and other forms of support, Zimbabweans in the UK were also involved, to a lesser extent, with social, cultural and political activities in Zimbabwe and elsewhere. Sixty percent participated in activities with people in Zimbabwe and 61 percent with people elsewhere. The most frequently cited activity was internet discussion groups with 30 percent participating in these with people living in Zimbabwe. Seventeen percent were involved in political activities with others in Zimbabwe and 15 percent with people elsewhere. Those who left mainly for political reasons were much more likely than others to participate in transnational political activities.

RETURN MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT

The focus of UK government policy has been on managed migration, temporariness and return. With regard to refugees there are two key policy areas. First, refugee status is now a temporary status to be reviewed after five years. Refugees will be expected to return home if the situation in the country of origin has improved. Secondly, there is an increasing emphasis on return through either voluntary return schemes, which are linked to the notion of the return of human capital for development, or the removal of those in breach of immigration regulations or at the end of the asylum process.29

Table 6.4: Remittances to Zimbabwe from UK

 

Sends Remittances (%)

Sends Non-Monetary Gifts (%)

Provides In-Kind Help and Support (%)

Immigration Status

UK Citizen

52

61

81

Permanent Resident

85

75

85

Working Visa

90

83

85

Student Visa

94

82

79

Refugee/Humanitarian Protection

88

78

75

Indefinite Leave to Remain

77

75

75

Asylum Seeker

66

60

68

Undocumented

82

86

81

Other

80

50

43

Has Close Family in Zimbabwe

Yes

82

75

79

No

50

54

78

Main Reason for Leaving Zimbabwe

Economic Situation/Employment

85

77

81

Political Situation

73

70

78

To Study Abroad

86

78

80

Other

74

74

60

Main Activity at Time of Survey

Employed/Self-Employed

81

77

81

Unemployed/Looking for Work

73

53

72

Student

91

77

81

Not Working – Other Reasons

31

39

38

Other

89

88

100

Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of Zimbabweans interviewed said that they definitely want to return home and a further 22 percent might want to return. Only 6 percent definitely did not want to return to Zimbabwe in the future. Having a spouse or partner in Zimbabwe was a key factor influencing the desire to return – 88 percent with a spouse/partner and 85 percent with children definitely wanted to return to Zimbabwe to live. Length of time in the UK was also important – the longer people had been in the UK, and the more secure their immigration status as a consequence (citizen or permanent resident), the lower the desire to return to Zimbabwe. While around half of those with UK or EU citizenship wanted to return, 83 percent of asylum seekers and 100 percent of undocumented migrants wanted to return to Zimbabwe.

image

Figure 6.5: Conditions for Return to Zimbabwe

Improvements in the political situation, the economic situation and security were mentioned most often as preconditions for return (Figure 6.5). Health care was a concern for nearly two-thirds, not surprisingly given the prevalence of HIV and the lack of access to antiretroviral drugs in Zimbabwe. Over a third of respondents said that they would like to go back to Zimbabwe to retire. This means that the skills of this group are potentially lost to Zimbabwe. The group included some very highly educated people as well as people who were working in professional jobs. The minority who definitely did not want to return to Zimbabwe emphasized the political situation, the economic situation and the uncertain future as their main reasons.

Table 6.5: Potential Contributions to Development in Zimbabwe

 

%

Investment in business

62

Transfer skills through working in Zimbabwe

44

Transfer skills through training in Zimbabwe

44

Investment in land development

34

Fundraising for projects in Zimbabwe

33

By sending remittances (money)

32

Exporting goods to Zimbabwe

30

Importing goods from Zimbabwe

30

Educational exchanges

28

Sending money for development projects in Zimbabwe with other Zimbabweans in the UK

26

Sending non-monetary gifts

24

Voluntary work in the UK or SA for Zimbabwean issues

23

Political/Greater political involvement

23

Making charitable donations

23

Providing distance teaching (via computers)

20

Investment in infrastructure

19

Voluntary work in Zimbabwe

14

Payment of tax in Zimbabwe

8

Other

2

N = 453

The study also explored whether there was any interest in participating in development-related activities in Zimbabwe. Most people were interested in contributing to development (79 percent); 15 percent said that they might be interested and only 6 percent were definitely not interested. Nearly everyone who did not want to contribute to development said that it was because of the current political situation. In terms of what contributions they might make, the largest proportion was interested in investing in business (Table 6.5). The types of activities that men and women wanted to contribute to varied. Larger proportions of men were interested in investing in business or land than women while women showed more interest in community-based activities like contributing to charities, fundraising and voluntary work in Zimbabwe.

Though there is clear interest in development-related activities, there are also barriers to contributing. Some of these barriers reflect the situation in Zimbabwe and some are a consequence of the UK asylum and immigration system. Those who were interested in contributing to development were asked what changes, if any, would help them contribute more effectively to the development of Zimbabwe. The factors mentioned most often related directly to Zimbabwe: political changes (65 percent), voting rights (53 percent) and economic opportunities (51 percent) (Figure 6.6). Other factors reflected the circumstances in the UK including having legal immigration status (24 percent), legal entitlement to work (24 percent), having a job (15 percent) and freedom to move (13 percent).

image

Figure 6.6: Changes That Would Encourage Development Contribution

Not surprisingly, undocumented workers and those in the asylum system were much more likely than others to say that legal immigration status would help them to contribute, or contribute more effectively, to development at home. They were also the respondents who identified legal entitlement to work as a key factor, as did those on student visas who are limited in terms of the numbers of hours that they are legally entitled to work. Those in the asylum system were most likely to state that freedom to move would help them to contribute to development in Zimbabwe. As recipients of assistance through the National Asylum Support Service, they were not able to leave their designated accommodation in dispersal areas without losing their support.

CONCLUSION

Asylum and immigration policy in the UK has become increasingly draconian. Strategies include the imposition of visa restrictions in 2002 in response to the increase in the numbers seeking asylum from Zimbabwe; the removal of the employment concession which allowed asylum seekers to apply for permission to work up until July 2002; increased fines for employers taking on people without the correct documentation; and a focus on removal and voluntary return. Home Office data shows an increase in removals and returns from 9,285 in 2001 to 16,330 in 2006.30 Removals were suspended for “failed” Zimbabwean asylum seekers in January 2002, though they resumed again between November 2004 and July 2005 when more than 200 people were removed. Zimbabweans who have travelled to the UK on false passports from other countries in the Southern African region, including South Africa, are now being returned to those countries.31

Zimbabweans in the UK are a well-qualified, highly-skilled group of migrants who have been in the UK for varying lengths of time with mixed motives for migration and variable immigration status which brings a hierarchy of rights and opportunities. The survey data shows that Zimbabweans have been able to build their capacity in the UK by successfully completing high-level educational qualifications. These achievements are not always translated into the labour market with many migrants being underemployed or working in secondary sector jobs with low pay and long hours. The immediacy of needing employment to remit money and other support to families in Zimbabwe undoubtedly plays a part in work strategies as do aspirations to return to Zimbabwe which could make career progression in the UK less of a priority. However, if and when Zimbabweans do return, the erosion of skills that has taken place – alongside periods of unemployment as a consequence of the asylum system – will impact on their opportunities and effectiveness in contributing to development.

The survey revealed active transnational social and economic lives as well as an interest in contributing to development in Zimbabwe. The propensity to send remittances and provide other support was related to social networks and legal access to the labour market. Citizens who had their immediate families in the UK and had been living in the UK longest were less likely than others to remit or provide support. The structural barriers inherent in the immigration and asylum system were also mentioned as areas of change that would better facilitate contribution to development from the UK. Certainly the UK government needs to reconsider the hierarchy of rights that operates within the current immigration and asylum system if a true commitment to global poverty alleviation, that includes migration as one strand of the strategy, is to be realized.

NOTES

1 J. McGregor, “Joining the BBC (British Bottom Cleaners): Zimbabwean Migrants and the UK Care Industry” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 33(5) (2007):801-24.

2 L. Bryne, Hansard, House of Commons, 23 Jan 2007: Column 1697W.

3 B. Mbiba, “Contentious Transformations and Global Citizenship: Zimbabwe’s Global Citizens in Harare North (United Kingdom)” Paper presented to Conference on Looking to the Future: Social, Political and Cultural Space in Zimbabwe, Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, Sweden, May 2004.

4 J. McGregor, “Abject Spaces, Transnational Calculations: Political Economies of Work for Zimbabweans in Britain” Paper presented at Workshop on Political Economies of Displacement in Post-2000 Zimbabwe, London School of Economics, London, September 2007.

5 L. Schuster and J. Solomos, “Race, Immigration and Asylum: New Labour’s Agenda and its Consequences” Ethnicities 4(2) (2004): 267–300.

6 Refugee Council and Oxfam, Joint Refugee Council and Oxfam Response to the Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into Immigration Control (London: Refugee Council and Oxfam, 2005), p. 4.

7 McGregor, “Joining the BBC (British Bottom Cleaners).”

8 T. Ranger, “The Narratives and Counter-Narratives of Zimbabwean Asylum: Female Voices” Third World Quarterly 26(3) (2005): 405-21.

9 McGregor, “Joining the BBC (British Bottom Cleaners)”; B. Mbiba, “Zimbabwe’s Global Citizens in Harare North (United Kingdom): Some Preliminary Observations” In M. Palmberg and R. Primorac, eds., Skinning the Skunk: Facing Zimbabwean Futures (Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 2005), pp. 26-38.

10 A. Bloch, The Development Potential of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora: A Survey of Zimbabweans Living in the UK and South Africa, Migration Research Series No. 17, International Organisation for Migration, Geneva, 2005.

11 For a full discussion of the methodology see A. Bloch, “Methodological Challenges for National and Multi-Sited Comparative Survey Research” Journal of Refugee Studies 20(2) (2007): 230-47.

12 A. Bloch, “Zimbabweans in Britain: Transnational Activities and Capabilities” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 34(2) (2008): 287-305.

13 L. Morris, “Britain’s Asylum and Immigration Regime: The Shifting Contours of Rights” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 28(3) (2001): 409-25.

14 B. Jordan and F. Düvell, Irregular Migration: The Dilemmas of Transnational Mobility (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2002).

15 A. Bloch, “Refugees in the UK Labour Market: The Conflict between Economic Integration and Policy-Led Labour Market Restriction” Journal of Social Policy 37(1) (2008): 21-36.

16 R. Kirk, Skills Audit of Refugees (London: Home Office Online Report 37/04, 2004).

17 Refugee Council, Social Exclusion, Refugee Integration, and the Right to Work for Asylum Seekers (London: Refugee Council, 2007).

18 Office for National Statistics, Labour Market Review: Employment Highlights, 2006.

19 Kirk, Skills Audit of Refugees.

20 Bloch, “Refugees in the UK Labour Market.”

21 McGregor, “Joining the BBC (British Bottom Cleaners).”

22 Ibid, p. 807.

23 Morris, “Britain’s Asylum and Immigration Regime” p. 411.

24 Refugee Council, The Forbidden Workforce: Asylum Seekers, the Employment Concession and Access to the Labour Market (London; Refugee Council, 2005).

25 Cabinet Office, Ethnic Minorities and the Labour Market (London: Cabinet Office, 2003).

26 P. Levitt and N. Nyberg Sørensen, “The Transnational Turn in Migration Studies” Global Migration Perspectives No. 6, Global Commission on International Migration, Geneva, 2004.

27 N. Al-Ali, R. Black and K. Koser, “The Limits to “Transnationalism:” Bosnian and Eritrean Refugees in Europe as Emerging Transnational Communities” Ethnic and Racial Studies 24(4) (2001): 578-600.

28 Bloch, “Zimbabweans in Britain.”

29 B. Blitz, R. Sales and L. Marzano, “Non-Voluntary Return? The Politics of Return to Afghanistan” Political Studies 53(1) (2005): 182-200.

30 K. Bennett, T. Heath and R. Jeffries, Asylum Statistics United Kingdom 2006 (London: Home Office, 2007).

31 Zimbabwean Association, Evidence to Independent Asylum Commission (London, 2007).

KILLING YOURSELF

In Zimbabwe, I was a high-school teacher. I taught for 11 years. I came here because my marriage was broken and I wanted to start a new life. I wanted to go to South Africa but a friend told me it was good financially to come to the UK so long as you worked very hard. I’ve got two children, a boy and a girl, and my husband was not helping at all. So it was like starting from zero. My friend came first, worked for two months and we communicated on the phone. It’s not easy she told me, work and jobs are here, you lie about your experience, for references you use a friend. I resigned from teaching and used my money to buy a ticket. I dressed professionally and when the immigration officer saw me I was given a visitor’s visa.

My friend’s sister had an agency in Coventry. I had to pay £1200 to register with them to get work. I was living in London so I was permanently at the train station, at a low ebb. I would cry going from one job to the next. I’d work day and night if I could get the work, going from job to job without going home – 112 hours a week. I’d get maybe £350 out of £700. The agency deducted everything. They’d give us a cheque and there was just enough for rent and sending home. We shared a flat, 6 of us, 2 in each room to reduce the rent. We live like squatters. The Pakistani landlords they exploit us. You never get your deposit back. I had a beautiful home back in Zimbabwe but I don’t know if I can live in it. I’m still supporting parents back home and my brother died and left two children.

Old people are not treated fairly, especially those funded by social services, but private homes where people have money, they can be posh and get five star service. I used to go to a home with social service residents. They were only given a small amount of food and only the cheapest brands. They were refused second helpings even when they were hungry. The workers were poorly paid, less than the minimum and they were looking after too many people. The worst job is in a nursing home for dementia patients. They’ll say anything, push you about, beat you. I hurt my back with the lifting. Some of the old people will be swinging off you. It’s just painful. I can only sit on hard chairs. They’re training people for lifting now but it’s too late for me. People like me have already ruined their backs.

I don’t have a social life. I’m always working. We’re in a foreign society. There’s no freedom. Life is very tough but you have no choice. I don’t like the way I’m living. I’ll have to go back but the finance is what is holding me here. There’s a lot of money in care work if you kill yourself!

image

Chapter Seven
Between Obligation, Profit and Shame:
Zimbabwean Migrants and the UK Care
Industry

JoAnn McGregor

The care industry in Britain faces serious staff shortages, not only of health professionals and social workers, but also of unskilled and semi-skilled carers. Increasingly, new recruits filling jobs at the unskilled end of the care labour market are migrants who have arrived recently in Britain – particularly women. The international influx into care has been on such a scale that, in some societies currently sending migrants to the UK, such as Zimbabwe, caring is cast as iconic of the process of migration itself, and coming to Britain is caricatured as subjection to a dirty, demeaning and feminized area of work. Zimbabweans joke derogatorily of their compatriots “joining the BBC” (“British Bottom Cleaners”), and call care workers and cleaners “bum technicians” or “ma.dot.com” (“dot” implying dirt).1

Care work is the largest single occupational category among Zimbabweans in Britain.2 Carers themselves have diverse attitudes towards the work, and the sector itself is varied: some migrants have found care work a useful stepping-stone to something else, some have found some satisfaction in helping others, and some have managed to accumulate funds to support family in Zimbabwe, or to invest in property and education. Moreover, the care sector has also provided opportunities for migrant entrepreneurs. However, most Zimbabweans working as carers are stressed and frustrated because they have experienced deskilling and a loss of status, and feel trapped in care work, with little prospect of using their qualifications in the UK. Some feel ashamed by the nature of the work. For men who have gone into caring, these feelings can be heightened by the humiliation of having to do dirty and demeaning “women’s” work.

The “care gap” in Britain has been created by a combination of demographic, social and economic changes.3 British people are living longer and having smaller families, and women have been less able or willing to perform “traditional” caring roles themselves, partly because they are working and geographical mobility has meant families are split up.4 At the same time, the privatization of local authority residential and home care services has worsened conditions of employment in parts of the labour market, making care jobs unattractive. Although this care gap is increasingly filled by international migrants, their service has often been “invisible,” and their contribution is little appreciated.5

Public debate over staff shortages in health and social care has been dominated by controversy over the recruitment of skilled health professionals, and has overlooked migrants working in unskilled care jobs.6 Though recent legislation has also opened up legal channels for unskilled migrants to come to Britain, these measures have been limited in scope, and have ignored the care sector. The combination of acute labour shortages and restrictionist migration policy has produced a situation where informal recruitment practices in the care industry have flourished, providing opportunities for newly arrived migrants but also allowing for their exploitation. Changing immigration regulations have created a situation where lying about experience, forged documents and false identities are perceived by many as the norm in securing jobs, and unscrupulous employers can profit from the vulnerability of others.7 Acknowledging the contribution made by migrants in the care sector would highlight the value of immigration, and allow for the protection of the rights of care workers, including opening up avenues for irregular migrants to regularise their work status and continue to provide much-needed care for others without being denied basic rights themselves.

This chapter is based on semi-structured interviews with 32 black Zimbabwean carers (20 women and 12 men) interviewed in different parts of the UK between September 2004 and April 2005.8 Research focussed primarily on London and the South East, but also included other places with significant Zimbabwean communities, such as the conurbations of the East and West Midlands, and West Yorkshire.9 These Zimbabwean women and men came to Britain as part of the exodus of that country’s middle and professional classes. In Zimbabwe they had been teachers, accountants, engineers, mechanics, administrators, development professionals, marketing and sales agents, bankers, secretaries, hairdressers, students or had run their own businesses; two had Masters-level qualifications outside the health and social care sectors. All were ambitious to advance themselves and their families through study, to find opportunities to deploy and develop the skills they had brought with them, or to find new careers and routes out of care into more remunerative, stable and high-status work. The majority of the migrants were supporting networks of dependants in Zimbabwe and/or the UK. Only a minority had the security of formal work status; most were on student visas, allowing for only limited hours of legal work. A quarter were failed asylum-seekers or their dependants or were “overstayers.”

An understanding of Zimbabweans’ perspectives on work in the care sector in the UK requires a consideration of their assessments of opportunities in Britain in relation to changing conditions and prospects in Zimbabwe. Before discussing these assessments, however, it is important to set out the context of changes in the UK care industry, which have led to a greater demand for immigrant carers.

THE UK CARE INDUSTRY

The care industry is a significant employer in Britain, and estimates of the numbers of care workers range between 922,000 and 1.6 million, the overwhelming majority of whom are women.10 The structure of the industry has undergone major changes over the last 20 years, as a result of privatisation and out-contracting. These changes have been important in spreading temporary work and creating unstable and insecure employment conditions at the bottom end of the job market, contributing to the shortages of carers and the growing importance of migrants. In the past, most formal care jobs were with local authorities, but now the majority of carers work for the private sector. The private sector grew earliest in residential care: it already had a leading role by 1993, when the commitment to privatization was formalised in the National Health Service (NHS) and Community Care Act, and by 2005 provided more than two-thirds of residential care places for adults.11 Home care services have also been privatized over the last decade, such that private care agencies now account for 60 percent of the market.12 In both residential and domiciliary care, small “cottage industry” providers predominate, despite the emergence of large corporate players. Many residential homes are still family-run enterprises, though a growing number are purchased simply as an investment, and are run by employed managers and matrons.13 The small private care agencies that have emerged to provide home care services have often been set up by former NHS or local authority employees. Given that one of the main barriers to setting up a care agency is access to a supply of carers, this is an area where migrants (many of them qualified nurses or social workers with a history of work in the UK) have found a niche, by tapping into their own social networks of people arriving in Britain desperate for work. Competition is strong and both the larger specialised care agencies and general temporary staffing agencies have tried to target ethnic minority and migrant communities through advertising strategies and by hiring recruiters from particular groups.

The staff shortages that have emerged alongside this process of privatization and in relation to general demographic and social changes have reached crisis levels and are likely to get worse. Vacancy rates for carers are high among all providers and are particularly acute in the independent sector. Turnover rates are also very high, ranging from 7-30 percent, the highest being in the independent sector and among part-time staff.14 The vacancies partly reflect the deteriorating conditions of work, as local authorities’ responsibilities regarding the quality of social care have been undermined by an emphasis on competition and cost-cutting. The process of out-contracting has also undermined workers’ conditions. Before the introduction of the minimum wage in 1999, care assistants were among the lowest paid of all occupations in Britain, and remained at the bottom of local authority pay rolls thereafter.15 A survey of carers in 2003 showed high levels of demoralisation and stress, associated with low pay and instability from outcontracting.16

The workforce of carers is increasingly dependent on ethnic minorities and migrants. The Zimbabweans in this study perceived their area of work as “dominated by foreigners,” particularly the bottom fractions of the market such as temporary jobs, supplied by private agencies. Yet the fragmentation of the industry and the patchy distribution of migrants make it difficult to generalise. As both large and small recruitment agencies in the care business try to tap into particular migrant networks, some small agencies have staff derived overwhelmingly from one nationality, and large agencies can also have concentrations of one particular group in specific places.17

The structural changes in the industry have contributed to the growth of informal employment practices, and to the spread of labour exploitation, particularly of migrants with insecure status.18 These practices include subcontracting chains that blur employer/employee distinctions, competing small firms, and highly personalised relations between employer/manager and employee, which create an unclear boundary between “helping” and “work,” particularly where jobs are location-specific and employers can double as landlords (such as care-home owners/matrons or labour recruitment agencies).19 The supply of potentially exploitable irregular migrants is also important, and is directly linked to restrictionist migration and asylum policies, as in the case of Zimbabweans in the UK.

MIGRATION AND ASYLUM IN THE UK

The numbers of Zimbabweans in the UK grew gradually in the 1990s, accelerating rapidly after Zimbabwe’s economic decline shifted dramatically to economic plunge and political crisis, as the ruling party resorted to a violent and exclusive brand of populist nationalism to try to bolster support in the face of challenges from a new political opposition. The growth of the Zimbabwean population in the UK occurred at a time when Britain was adopting increasingly restrictive measures towards “illegal immigrants” and asylum-seekers.20 Zimbabwe also became the target of specific controls when it topped the Home Office’s list of countries producing asylum-seekers in late 2002. A new visa regime introduced in November 2002 inflated the cost of travelling to the UK and closed down all legitimate routes out of Zimbabwe for those fleeing persecution.21 Although it produced the desired drop in UK asylum figures, it did not stop Zimbabweans from travelling to Britain, given the deepening crisis at home and the hostile reaction to the influx of Zimbabweans in the Southern African region. Rather, it drove Zimbabweans into the hands of traffickers and agents, such that increasing numbers arrived in the UK on fraudulent Malawian and South African passports.22

Forced removals of Zimbabweans from the UK were suspended between late 2001 and late 2004 but resumed in November 2004 in the run-up to the British parliamentary elections, despite the further deterioration of conditions in Zimbabwe.23 In October 2005, deportations were once again suspended, following a judgement of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal that the act of claiming asylum in the UK was enough in itself to create a risk of abuse from the Zimbabwean authorities on return. The Tribunal considered evidence that returnees from the UK were systematically handed over at the airport to the Zimbabwean intelligence services for interrogation, along with evidence of incidents of torture and disappearance.24 The suspension of removals from the UK has left many Zimbabweans in Britain in a situation of protracted insecurity and created a growing problem of destitution, as failed asylum-seekers and others were denied the right to work or to claim state support and have had no route to regularise their status. The effect has been to force many Zimbabweans underground, and to seek work by any means.

Although the shift to “managed” migration has allowed many skilled Zimbabweans (and others) to enter the country legally through the new Highly Skilled Migrants Programme and other channels, the heightened barriers against those already in Britain have had the effect of trapping a pool of skilled people in Britain who are unable to use their skills, and have not deterred people from coming through irregular routes. The strategies used by Zimbabweans to regularise their status have gradually been shut down; nursing training, for example, had been a major route by which Zimbabweans in the UK had been able to stabilise life, yet access was curtailed when free bursaries were ended in 2002. New controls are also being implemented on the acquisition of student visas to legalise work, which are likely to force people further down informal routes to hide earnings and identities. Attempts to restrict the numbers of Zimbabweans in the UK are destined to fail, as long as they take no account of Zimbabweans’ circumstances, and as long as conditions in that country do not favour return. Zimbabweans in the UK have had little choice but to continue to hang on however they can, despite stressful and insecure conditions.

BECOMING A CARER

Zimbabweans have entered the care industry on such a scale that the job has become part of national stereotypes of the process of migration to Britain. A student described how: “Back home, they’ll be laughing at you – BBC, that’s what people at home think you do. If they know you’ve been in the UK, they’ll ask you, are you a cleaner or a carer? The assumption back home is that everyone is doing that thing.”25

The carers interviewed in this study were typical of most Zimbabweans, in that they had no experience of care work before they arrived in the UK. As care for the elderly is largely a family concern for black Zimbabweans, encountering homes for the elderly was something new and shocking. Some had heard about them but could not imagine what a nursing home was like and certainly did not envisage themselves doing work that they did not consider to be a proper job and was dirty, cheap and “shameful.” Most felt that care for the elderly should be a family matter that was part of a duty children had towards parents. They were highly critical of the way British society treated its elders. Many thought families who put old people in homes were abdicating their moral responsibility by discarding or “dumping” their parents; and that the elderly should be looked after in their children’s homes by relatives out of love, not put in an institution and cared for by people they did not know, working for money. Especially initially, some Zimbabwean carers were ashamed and tried to hide what they were doing from relatives and compatriots, even if they also felt they were doing something useful and got some satisfaction from helping others. One woman explained:

I work in a dementia unit in a care home…the work is very demanding… I just accept what I’m doing, there’s no choice, we’re in a foreign land…in Zimbabwe, this kind of work, it’s not really acceptable in our culture. My mother and son, they won’t accept it is what I do, I can’t tell my son, it might affect him…But I enjoy the work, I want to help people.26

A school leaver who came to join her parents said:

I’m working in care – we all are. There is no option. I never thought I’d do that. I had relatives here when I came and they didn’t tell me what they were doing until I came over here myself and was so shocked.27

Others talked of having to swallow their pride and disgust: “I have brought up four children,” one mother recalled, “and I found that very difficult, even with my own children, changing the nappies, and all that dirt, it made me feel like throwing up, so how much worse with old ladies.”28 But the BBC jobs had become so notorious that, for some, the actuality “was better than the stories I heard about the job back in Zimbabwe.”29 Moreover, the possibility of saving was encouraging. A teacher who had sought asylum recounted:

I was just forced to come, I had heard about the bum technicians, but they were sending back £50 a month to their relatives, that was more than you could imagine earning or saving in Zimbabwe, so we didn’t care, we didn’t care what work it was.30

For men, becoming a carer was doubly shaming, as it meant doing not only dirty and demeaning work, but also what they considered as “women’s work.” Of the many challenges to notions of masculinity provoked by moving to Britain, including an encounter with different gender norms and the need to re-negotiate domestic gender relations, the feminisation of employment opportunities is particularly important. Some Zimbabwean men refused to work in care. Yet a considerable number did so, even though “you can feel your manhood is undermined,” as one male carer noted.31 Another man (a father) recalled how in his first job, the matron of the home had taken the men aside to explain what the work was like before they did their first shift:

She prepared us for that. “Doing care work is like being a Mum,” she said, “Old people are like children,” that’s how she explained it, and that made it more acceptable to me, as a father I have helped clean my children at times, even though that’s really my wife’s job. She warned us it was very hands on and you need to do everything for the person, feed, clean, dress. If that woman hadn’t warned me in advance, I would never have finished the first day, but I was lucky, I was given some warning.32

Yet unskilled or semi-skilled jobs were seen as more readily available in care than in forms of employment more traditionally associated with men. Men who have not been prepared to do care work have not escaped an assault on their masculinity, as they have often been unable to earn as much or as regularly as their wives, which they also described as “humiliating,” as it undermined their status and role as “provider” for their families, creating tensions in relationships, and contributing to the many marriage breakups in the Zimbabwean diaspora.33

Many of the Zimbabweans who went into care work looked back on their early days in Britain and getting their first jobs as a very difficult and stressful time. Some Zimbabweans were able to get their first job a matter of days after stepping off the plane, through personal introductions, or good information on how to register with colleges for student visas, or being directed to agencies or homes that would take new arrivals without experience or papers. But others tried for months to find work before finally being successful, and became increasingly desperate as the goodwill and budgets of friends ran out. People recalled coming to Britain with nothing more than a single telephone number; some turned up at relatives’ homes only to find the address they had was out of date and the relative was working somewhere else; some recalled sleeping rough in train stations; some camped outside the doors of Zimbabwean-run businesses or were hosted by community leaders or churches because they had nowhere else to go.

One young woman came to the UK in 1999, “because my child was in Form 1 and my salary was Z$10,000 – on that I couldn’t afford housing, I couldn’t educate my children, nothing.” She had no close relatives in the UK, but a friend of a friend organised somewhere to stay. This did not work out as the host was critically ill, so after three days in the UK she was turned out and found herself wandering the streets of Luton. She then looked up a relative of her mother-in-law who said she could stay. She did cleaning jobs until the matron of a nursing home in Welwyn Garden City took her on. She recalled:

The first six months in this country were very hard – no one wants you when you first arrive, you have no employment, no money, you can’t get work, you’re desperate…When you come you need to register with a college to get your papers, but how when you have no money? No papers means no work – but then that lady, an Indian lady helped me. She offered me £3 per hour or £50 a week – but I was to eat and sleep there in the home. It was half what she paid the others who had papers. That lady trained me to do care work, I got practice at the nursing home, she organised that, I hadn’t asked her for work, but just to help me. The matron gave me the money and paid after each week, but then she kept pressing me to get papers, she told me to send £250 to a college that sent off my passport to the Home Office and from there you’re OK and you can work. I registered for a computer course, just to get the papers to stay. That lady helped me and welcomed me, she was just helping me so I made sure I got out quickly, not to overstay. I used to refuse milk and sugar in my tea, saying I liked black tea, but that was a lie, just so as not to be a burden. Now I’ve helped others when they arrive, because I know what it is like to be desperate.34

The fact that so many Zimbabweans have gone into care partly reflects the availability of work, but also the clustering of Zimbabwean social networks around the industry. As the Zimbabwean community has grown, its members have passed on their experience to newcomers, and many have entered care work through personal introductions or efforts on the part of friends and relatives already working as carers. While close personal family relations with care workers have been important, many Zimbabweans have helped compatriots they scarcely knew find work. A woman in her forties, a former headmistress who came to Britain as a visitor, recalled going into care work thanks to the efforts of other Zimbabwean carers. Her account of getting a job, and subsequently helping others to do so, illustrates the chain of personal contacts, and the convergence of migrants’ own agency with the interests of care-home owners or managers facing staff shortages. It also highlights the stress and difficulty of trying to make ends meet through long hours in poorly paid work:

To get a job [when I came in 1998] I had a friend working at a residential home [in Sutton] owned by a certain old lady who lived at the top of the house. They made sure, the workers, that I arrived in the morning and they trained me in how to look after old people. So then they said, “We’ll tell the old lady we’re going to leave the job, but we’ve brought someone to replace us.” They knew she would be desperate to be told just like that with no notice. She was desperate, she needed someone for night duty. The woman pleaded, “How can you let me down like this. Now it’s too late for me to find someone.” “But we can recommend a certain girl,” they said. So that’s how I got the job. She questioned me but I was prepared. So then she gave me so many jobs, just to test, I was so scared. Then on the night shift I was left alone and I didn’t know where to start, but I knew I was supposed to change the old ladies. So I left it all night, too scared to know what to do, and then eventually I plucked up courage by 5am as I knew others would be arriving, and the old people were all soaking wet.

My friend and I moved into a flat together, to help each other with the rent…At first I got £3.50 per hour in that Sutton nursing home, it wasn’t enough. I lied in order to get nightshifts which are better paid, saying I have a baby I’ve left with my sister, so I can only do nights. But I was never paid any more, even for nights, so then I looked for other jobs. I went to Epsom, a friend’s friend was working in a nursing home there. They were desperate for more staff, so I just came and pretended I had all the papers – they wanted experience and references. I lied and references aren’t a problem, so I got the job, doing days. It was £4.50 per hour, so I was doing better. I got a big bag with a change of clothes, a toothbrush and so on. Then after night duty in Sutton, I’d change and wash so as to appear fresh for the day job. I lived like that for two years, doing double shifts.

One day I saw a woman at the train station, she recognised me, she didn’t know me but she could see I was wearing a Zimbabwean cardigan. She asked me for work, but I said “You will need to pretend to be my sister.” I wanted to help her, I could see she was suffering and I felt sympathy for her. “I won’t tell you where I live,” I told her, “but I’ll meet you at the station tomorrow.” I introduced her where I work as a sister, and they took her on.35

Others helped friends into work by allowing them to use their identity. Some Zimbabwean employers running care agencies complained of how they had to be vigilant, and guard against giving one person a job who seemed legitimate, only to find the new employee had sent a sister or mother to work in their stead.36 One nurse described turning up for a shift in a dementia home expecting to work with a fellow carer she had known for some considerable time, only to find a new person claiming the carer’s identity, who looked nothing like the person she was supposed to be and who clearly had no experience in care.37

Although many people managed to get work via personal introductions, another common route into care work has been to sign on with a recruitment agency that has good connections to the Zimbabwean community, sometimes because it is run by Zimbabweans. Agencies in the care sector operate in diverse ways, but information spreads quickly among carers as to which agencies do not ask questions, where it is possible to register with a simple phone call, where it is not necessary to produce the paperwork usually required (references, evidence of UK experience, an address and service bills appropriately addressed, a bank account, a passport with a visa allowing work). Even for those who have the right to work, such as students, employers’ demands were difficult to meet, especially initially.

Unscrupulous agencies employing individuals lacking papers exploit their workers, maximising profits by making heavy deductions from staff pay (for training, rent, tax, National Insurance, and sometimes accommodation) to the point that the worker gets little more than pocket money. Some “bond” workers by withholding pay or confiscating passports, thus giving staff an incentive to stay on the books in order to get what is owed to them; employees who object are simply threatened with disclosure to the Home Office. Several of the Zimbabwean carers interviewed had experience of being “tied in” to an agency in this way when they first arrived. Their attitudes towards this were mixed – many felt that they had at least been able to get work experience, and thus a toe in the door. Much depended on the prospect of getting something better, and the ability to manoeuvre into other work, by regularising their legal status, using someone else’s identity to get a better job, or finding an agency prepared to give a better deal for those without papers.

The following account was given by a former primary school teacher, talking of himself and his wife:

We’d heard about the BBC, but we never imagined we’d be doing it…We found it was the only available work, we got into it through desperation… We were introduced by friends, that’s how you do it. It took me a month to find work…I started with a very dubious agency, they paid what they felt like, and then at the end of the week they don’t honour the agreement, or you’d get half of what you were supposed to get. I went two weeks without pay. You start off just being grateful – I didn’t mind being exploited like that at first, just because it was something, you felt you were learning, getting a foot on the ladder. But then after 3-4 months you see that you’ve been tied in, you want to leave it, but you can’t, you’re tired out and tied in because they owe you money and they know you don’t have your papers. At first, you don’t know the environment, you don’t know people, and then you find your hours are not being paid just because you don’t know, but you don’t complain because you need to work. You live in the houses they provide and do what they say because you don’t know and you have no choice.38

Working for unscrupulous agencies where housing was not provided could lead to even deeper problems, given the need to pay rent and other bills. One of the Zimbabwean men – a former mechanic working as a carer – was in this situation at the time of the interview. He spoke of his exhaustion, stress and depression at working excessive hours for which he was not remunerated, getting further and further into debt, and failing to meet his rent to a private landlord in South East London.39 Yet he had not given up on life in Britain, but anticipated moving into other jobs, perhaps outside of London, envisaged studying for degrees, and was planning to bring his family to Britain when his circumstances stabilised, so they too could secure their education. The stress created by such employment practices was immense in itself, quite aside from the additional pressures many Zimbabweans have experienced as a result of the legacies of violence against themselves and their families, the threat of deportation, demands from family at home, and relationships stretched to breaking point.

Zimbabwean diaspora organisations have not mobilised around the issue of labour exploitation in Britain, perhaps because it is seen as “standard practice,” and a pervasive feature of large segments of the British job market, both on the part of small agencies tapping into particular migrant constituencies and among the major recruitment agencies for unskilled, temporary work. Under current legislation in Britain, if abusive employers hiring workers informally are reported, there is no protection for vulnerable and desperate workers, who risk not only losing their job but also detention and deportation. Individuals concerned about their compatriots’ exploitation have preferred to try to direct workers to better employers, or have tried to set up in business to create employment themselves. Since deportations have been suspended, however, there have been demonstrations demanding the right to work for failed asylum-seekers. The exploitation of overseas qualified nurses during their adaptation courses has attracted more attention, yet they are less vulnerable than those entering the unskilled job market informally.40

CONDITIONS AND TRAJECTORIES OF WORK

The care industry has absorbed many migrants partly for negative reasons – simply because the jobs are available, and Zimbabwean social networks provide entry. The exploitative conditions of work that many migrants experienced in their first jobs were seen as tolerable because they expected to move into something better. Some made positive comparisons between caring and their experiences of other work. The carers interviewed for this study included people who had moved out of cleaning, supermarket work, security, catering, hairdressing, industrial or warehouse jobs and teaching. They consistently explained the advantages as “more money and less stress.” In care they were able to build up longer hours of more regular work, compared to other areas of unskilled work. In cleaning, warehouse or industrial work, it can be very hard to build enough hours to make ends meet.

Some care jobs also pay better than other areas of unskilled work. One former NGO manager explained: “I can’t compare this work to my job back home, it’s a cheap job, but the wages are better than other unskilled work – I started off in a supermarket, but the wages were depressing.”41 Another noted, “Yes, it’s dirty work and it can be stressful at times, but at the end of the month you’re not thinking about the dirt.”42 A young woman felt care work was “hard” but less stressful than working in an understaffed burger restaurant.43 One former hairdresser switched into care after working for a West-African-run hair salon, where pay had been handed out when the owner felt like it, rather than in relation to the hours she worked.44 A teacher recalled her stress working as a supply teacher in South East London: “My aunt advised me, “You should go into care work – look please swallow your pride.” She helped me, she was the one who persuaded me, but now I enjoy it, at least compared to the teaching.”45

The flexibility of care work is also attractive, and mothers and students described it as easier to fit around childcare or study than other jobs. A former teacher, studying for a Master’s degree, explained: “Care work is easy to do and you can choose your days. I came here as a student, I go to lectures during the day and I do nightshifts in a nursing home. I never looked into teaching because I couldn’t fit that around my studies.”46

The male carers assessed care work in relation to the feminisation of employment opportunities in Britain. They considered the market for unskilled “men’s jobs,” such as industrial or warehouse work, to be much tighter and more competitive. Care work could compare favourably because “men’s work” was often physically demanding and even if work was available, it was simply not physically possible to increase earnings by working double shifts. A male carer explained: “In a warehouse, you can’t do more than a single shift, your body won’t allow that, but in care you can work double shifts because the work is lighter.”47 Another man, who combined warehouse and care jobs elaborated: “In the warehouse they pay more per hour, but at the end of the day those doing caring jobs earn more. You can do more hours in care work. In the warehouse you can earn up to £9 per hour, but you can’t work more than 10 hours lifting boxes, after that you’ll be tired as a donkey.”48 Those without papers also considered industrial jobs to be more vulnerable to immigration sweeps than the fragmented and dispersed care jobs. Men thus had to weigh up irregular and risky work in a masculine environment against the potential for higher earnings through work in a feminised environment. Some men combined care work with other unskilled work, thus keeping a foot in a man’s world whilst also maximising their income.

The favourable comparisons between care and other unskilled jobs demand a closer examination of the conditions of work within a very diverse sector. Carers generally preferred working for clients who were more independent rather than in nursing and dementia homes. Men and women alike aspired to move into day centres, or into positions providing support for those with learning disabilities. The carers in this study had almost all moved into work they considered better than their first jobs: they had moved out of situations where they were tied in, to agencies that honoured payments at least of the minimum wage. Many had got out of the “homes that stink, with that smell that stays with you,” into homes that provide “five-star service,” places that “smell so sweet, you could think it was a hotel.”49

Most of the Zimbabweans interviewed were working for agencies supplying temporary staff to residential homes. They build up enough hours to make ends meet by signing on with more than one agency, or combine agency shifts with other work (in or outside the care sector). Many complained that their agency would ring at short notice either to cancel or offer shifts; many felt compelled to take whatever they were offered to ensure contracts in the future and to build up enough hours. Some, however, worked for agencies where their “temporary” placements were relatively stable. Rates of pay varied enormously, as agencies appear to compete both at the bottom and top of the job market. Many of the temporary staff were paid hourly rates on or around the minimum wage for weekday shifts (just under £5), while some earned £8 or more. Carers typically were responsible for their own insurance, though many did not know this, and none had taken out insurance. Most had no benefits such as sick pay or compassionate leave. Many complained about the structure of the industry, particularly that the private recruitment agencies were “money oriented” and cared little for their workforce. They also complained that agencies passed on the costs of training, or provided qualifications that were expensive and sometimes non-transferable between different agencies.50

The status of temporary staff could explain some of the problems the Zimbabwean carers described in relation to work in residential homes. They reported situations where managers and matrons overworked temporary staff, sent them to the most difficult clients, criticised them excessively or expected more of them, or allowed different amounts of time for teabreaks and so on. They also complained of friction with the permanent staff. These problems were exacerbated by the division between temporary and permanent staff, often described as racialised, with all the temporary staff being African or other migrants, compared to a predominantly white permanent staff. As one carer noted:

The agency staff where I work, we’re all black…It’s hard because the permanent staff, they will criticise you for laziness, whereas the permanent staff get away with a lot. They can be relaxing and smoking, but if you’re hired through the agency, you’ll always be the one sent if something needs doing, and you’ll always be criticised, it’s like you’re a second-class citizen, they make a big deal out of it.51

Four carers had sustained back injuries while employed as temporary staff in nursing homes, and felt they could not complain about inadequate or broken equipment. Temporary staff also felt reluctant to complain about racism. The main constraint on making the desired transition from temporary agency staff to a permanent job directly employed by a home or local authority was legal status. Some, however, continued to sign on with agencies as a matter of choice. The advantages they listed were that the work was flexible and could be fitted around other work or study, and that the better agencies paid more than the homes.

Conditions of work in the domiciliary care sector were likewise very variable. Some agencies did not cover travel time, and carers spent long periods of wasted time moving between clients. The best conditions of work were described by those working for local authority in-house teams, where there were relatively few migrants. One Zimbabwean woman had secured a part-time job with a County Council, where she was “the only black face.” Her conditions – exceptional for the carers interviewed – included good hourly rates, sick pay, insurance, pension and other benefits.52 Live-in jobs, where the carer is registered with an agency but works for a private client whilst residing in their home, presented a particular set of advantages and disadvantages. Such jobs were strongly feminised. Live-in jobs allow relatively large sums to be earned quickly, as the care worker’s living expenses are borne by the client.

The prospects of rapid earnings, combined with time for study and less arduous working days than in a residential home, were weighed up against the disadvantages of the job, primarily isolation. Such jobs take migrant carers into places where they feel very out of place – rural villages, estates of suburban bungalows in sleepy coastal towns and the like. Other disadvantages included the emotional stress of becoming close to a regular elderly client who subsequently dies. One carer had seen the death of three clients in two years. Live-in carers were exclusively women, either female students who needed to save money quickly by working in the holidays, or middle-aged women who felt less need to meet people, and whose children had left home.

Racism in the care sector is a problem in all these types of work, not only in situations where the boundary between temporary and permanent staff is racialised. All the carers working in residential homes for the elderly had experienced verbal abuse from clients, and many had been told they “did not want to receive personal care from a black person.” Some tolerated this from a colonial generation who were now too old to change their views or were suffering from dementia, but differed on the extent they took offence, or classified such comments as “racism.” Much depended on the attitude of the home management. While a minority of carers felt part of a team and reported ways in which managers and matrons had intervened to reduce or disallow racist abuse from clients, in other instances managers failed to act, or even institutionalised racist practices and attitudes.

One care assistant described how her manager gave black carers all the heavy lifting: “At our work place, we have a “heavy side” which is difficult to work in. All black people are assigned to work in that side. White people are never assigned to work there.”53 Many talked about racism as “indirect,” and felt that, as black people, more was expected of them and they had to work twice as hard as white colleagues to prove their worth. Although all the Zimbabwean carers spoke good English, many reported criticism of their accent and communication problems, especially initially. Many had received insults derived from ignorance about Africa, such as the assumption that everyone lives in mud huts. The personalised relationships in residential care homes made it difficult for carers to make formal complaints about racism. In general, employers in the care sector were compared unfavourably with hospitals, which were said to have better procedures for reporting and handling racism.

The location of work made a difference to accounts of racism in care work. Some Zimbabwean carers felt more comfortable in workplaces and cities where there were a lot of black people or an ethnic mix, rather than in coastal retirement centres or small towns, where they felt both direct and indirect racism were more pronounced. Others, however, described frictions with other black or ethnic minority workers in cities. One carer working for a private domiciliary agency in Birmingham described how her manager gave her “black” clients because she was “black,” but that this was a problem for her, as her clients were of Caribbean and Asian origin and looked down on her as an African, insulting her by assuming she had to be taught basic everyday tasks, like how to wash up or how to use a toilet.54 Another woman who worked in a dementia home explained: “The old folks, yes they abuse, but they’re ill, they don’t know what they’re doing, they call you “fucking black bastards, fuck off to Africa,” but they’re ill. The problem I had was with Nigerians and Kenyans…I worked in a section with a Nigerian manager, she was very difficult and refused to give me a reference when I left.”55

Despite such experiences of institutionalised, direct or indirect racism, there were also occasions when being Zimbabwean, African or black was seen as an advantage. One woman, a former teacher, had got her first job in care because “the manager [of the dementia home] liked Zimbabweans, she said they were hardworking and we had the reputation for never cancelling a shift. Homes like Zimbabweans for that reason.”56 A Zimbabwean running a small care agency described losing some contracts when the prospective clients realised she was black or specifically requested “local” carers rather than foreigners, but other clients had indicated indirectly that they wanted black or migrant carers, “When a client says “Send us carers who are hard-working,” you know what they mean.”57

In addition to racism, the male carers complained of gender discrimination. One warehouse worker felt that care agencies and homes “did not trust men.” He described how he and two male friends had applied to a residential home advertising more than five vacancies, “but they said no, we can’t take three guys on in one residential home, not three men staying overnight. So we didn’t get the job.”58 Male carers who had succeeded in getting jobs reported further discrimination at work:

Some homes favour women, a woman can wash a man, but then why can’t I wash a female? So they discriminate…Most homes are a female environment – I was the first man there when I took my job, but until now, all the day shifts are ladies, I can’t get those jobs. But if you go to a home where you’re grouped with women, they’ll say, “That’s heavy work, you go,” and then they’ll say “He’s being difficult” if you try to complain.59

The excessively long hours that the Zimbabwean carers worked – some sustaining double shifts over extended periods – partly reflected the low hourly rates that they received and their living expenses in Britain, but were also motivated by their responsibility to meet the needs of dependants and to fulfil their own ambitions for study, advancement and accumulation. The carers described “killing themselves with overwork,” pushing themselves to the very limit to raise enough money to cover rent and other living expenses in the UK, as well as meeting their obligations to support networks of dependants.60

Most were unhappy with their social life in Britain, as anti-social hours, short notice of work and exhaustion allowed little spare time to spend with family and friends. Those with children had to make difficult choices, juggling the need for extra shifts with the necessity to spend time with children; some felt they were not meeting their own standards of parenting. Yet the “sacrifice” of overwork had paid off for many, who had managed to fund studies to further themselves or their children. Some carers had also been able to save enough to invest in property in Zimbabwe, to purchase stands (plots of land in towns) or develop homes. One student doing care work, for example, left Zimbabwe in 2002 “with a two-acre stand and a ten-roomed house at foundation level.” She came to the UK both to study and to raise funds to complete the home, which she had done by June 2004. She had built her “dream house, which most people ask me why I built such a big, beautiful and expensive house yet I have no intention of going home permanently in the next four years or so.”61 A former secretary and mother of two teenage children worked as a live-in carer while also unsuccessfully claiming asylum and staying on thereafter. Within a few months of arriving in 2001, she had sent home enough money to replace the family car, but her primary aim was to raise the funds to further her children’s education, which she managed to do, sending home the fees for a private school for one, and university education in South Africa for the second.62 Another carer was channelling all her spare earnings to her family in the UK, where she had two children at university on courses charged at overseas rates.63

FRUSTRATIONS AND BRICK WALLS

Although some of the carers had managed to manoeuvre themselves into relatively good jobs in the care sector and were using care work to finance their studies or investments, they typically saw the job as a stopgap, or a means to something else. One carer noted: “I’m not going anywhere with this caring job, I don’t want to think of it in terms of the future, I’m just doing it to fill in while things are sorted out at home.” A second carer agreed, “Yes, for me caring is a stepping stone…a financial step, I’m doing it for economic reasons. People like me are looking to better themselves [through study].” Thus, even the best care jobs were seen as tolerable only in the short term, to lead on to something else.

Most of the Zimbabwean carers in this study felt trapped in temporary care jobs. For some, this was because they lacked access to papers. Those who had been through the asylum system unsuccessfully were in a worse position than those still in the system, on visitors’ visas or “overstayers” on student visas, as they had little or no prospect of ever regularising their work status. A male carer – a former banker who had run a foreign exchange bureau – explained:

I came here to build up my education and qualifications so I can go back to banking – I can further my studies in the UK for that. When I got here I joined several agencies, because that’s the circumstances here and the work is low…It’s so difficult to get the permanent jobs, you need papers. People here would be moving on, but it’s the papers, that is always the problem, it’s a huge disadvantage, it draws you back, so you just end up staying with the agency. Homes won’t take you without the papers, you have offers from the homes of work, but you can’t tell them you don’t have the papers. The agencies are some sort of a protection in some ways…I think of myself going back to banking, but now I’m helping people and there is some satisfaction in that…if you’ve made someone smile, you have helped them, then it’s fulfilling at the end of the day…I could do more with my life, like go into nursing…but costs and my visa status, they would need to be regularised. You need to satisfy the training colleges of that, so you meet a brick wall.64

Most felt there was a lack of opportunities in Britain for professional employment outside the health sector. One of the carers was on the list of Chartered Engineers in Britain, having registered after completing his transfer course. Yet, holding a student visa, he had not been able to find professional work, as employers would not apply for a work permit on his behalf. He felt unable to return to Zimbabwe to apply from there because of the cost, the fact that his wife had a new baby and they needed to juggle shifts to look after it, and because he had political reasons for not wanting to return to Zimbabwe. He felt the process of applying for work permits from Zimbabwe was risky, and might trap him away from his family. He had also trained as a nursing home manager, but could not secure such work without a work permit. He spoke of becoming dependent on antidepressants, and despaired of getting the type of work he wanted.65

Another frustrated professional – a woman in her late forties – had sold property back home to pay the overseas fees for an MBA, which she had completed. But she had come to the conclusion that there was no future for her in the UK, because she would never be able to use her new qualification. In Zimbabwe and South Africa, before coming to the UK, she had worked in a managerial capacity for large corporations, but in the UK she had joined the care industry after a series of unsatisfactory secretarial, receptionist and debt collection jobs. She was employed on favourable pay and conditions by an in-house local authority team, but it was not what she wanted:

It’s very hard moving from a responsible managerial job to low jobs here. If you compare the work, I feel the jobs I have done here have destroyed my self-esteem. I’m destroying the person I know…It’s like I’ve gone right back to the first jobs I did [when I left school]…I’ve been studying here, working to develop myself, but in terms of the jobs I can get here, I can’t stay here. I’ve done my education over the last few years, but as a person, I feel as I have been going down…I can’t see there are opportunities for me. The problem in the UK is getting a reasonable job, a professional job that will advance your career. You can’t do that, there are no options for me to further my career here…I can’t see myself doing care work for long…It’s not me, I can’t think of myself doing this sort of job. It’s alright, of course, I like old people, and I don’t mind helping them, I get satisfaction from that, I enjoy helping and talking to them, but I’d rather do that as something personal that I chose to do, just to help. But not to do it for a salary, it’s not right. I can’t think of it as a career, as a profession.66

Those who had secured work status all envisaged moving out of work as care assistants. Two refugees were looking into training as nurses, a third was exploring social work.

Loss of status was a major problem for all the Zimbabwean carers, as most came from middle-class backgrounds, and had held responsible, professional jobs at home. Many described how painful it was to be “looked on as low by someone who doesn’t know that you’re doing a job that’s beneath you.”67 A former headmistress, now in care work, elaborated: “When I am at work, people can look at you as if you’re low, nothing. Then you have to just keep quiet about yourself and your background. We’re ashamed to talk about how we’re living, it’s painful.”68

Zimbabwean carers’ perspectives on their work and decisions about their careers involved weighing up their circumstances and prospects in Britain with those back home in Zimbabwe. Despite the problems of feeling trapped in undervalued and “dirty” work, most carers did not feel that going back to Zimbabwe was feasible in the short term. The ongoing political repression in Zimbabwe, conditions of hyper-inflation, the humanitarian crisis provoked by mass evictions, the collapse of services, and relatives dependent on remittances for basics such as food, all provided powerful incentives to struggle on in Britain.

CONCLUSION

The transnational calculations made by Zimbabweans in care work suggest that there are differences in the way migrants perceive their work, compared to workers living in more stable circumstances. Although Zimbabweans working in care complained of long hours, they actively sought out as much work as possible in order to meet their transnational obligations and ambitions (regardless of their legal status, or original motivation for leaving Zimbabwe). Their quest for money was often strong enough to overcome the shame of loss of status and a cultural disdain for care work, even for men. Both men and women were highly mobile, and in a short period, most had built up an astonishing catalogue of experience in different parts of the country and in different types of care work. Their ambition led them to accept the work, in order to advance themselves in other ways and to create a trajectory into less “hands-on” jobs, and, if not ultimately out of care, at least into caring in a professional capacity, as social workers or nurses.

Yet the obstacles to moving on and up, or back to Zimbabwe, were increasing, as a result of restrictionist migration policies, constraints on entering other parts of the British job market, and continuing political repression, economic decline and the mounting humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. The stress created by doing insecure, poorly-paid and low-status feminized work was compounded for some by life on the margins of the law and fear of deportation and for others, who worked legally, by a sense of being trapped without prospects.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This research was funded by the ESRC, grant number RES 000 22 0630. Grateful thanks are due to the Zimbabwe Association, Brighton Chireka, Angelous Dube and Mqondobanzi Nduna Magonya. The author and editors wish to thank Taylor & Francis for permission to publish a revised version of the article that first appeared in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 33(5) (2007), pp. 801-24.

NOTES

1 B. Mbiba, “Contentious Transformations and Global Citizenship: Zimbabwe’s Global Citizens in Harare North (United Kingdom)” Paper presented at Conference on “Looking to the Future: Social, Political and Cultural Space in Zimbabwe” Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, Sweden, 2004.

2 A. Bloch, “The Development Potential of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora. A Survey of Zimbabweans Living in the UK and South Africa” IOM Migration Research Series No. 17, Geneva, 2005, pp. 54-55.

3 B. Anderson, Doing the Dirty Work? The Global Politics of Domestic Labour (London: Zed Books, 2000); A. Walker and T. Maltby, Ageing Europe (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1997).

4 Anderson, Doing the Dirty Work.

5 B. Ehrenreich and A. Hochschild, Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy (London: Granta Books, 2003).

6 J. Buchan, Here to Stay? International Nurses in the UK (London: Royal College of Nursing, 2003); J. Buchan, R. Jobanputra and P. Gough, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” Nursing Standard 18 May 2005, pp. 19, 36; I. Hardshill and S. Macdonald “Skilled International Migration: The Experience of Nurses in the UK” Regional Studies 34(7) (2000): 681-92; P. Raghuram and E. Kofman “The State, Skilled Labour Markets and Immigation: The Case of Doctors in England” Environment and Planning A 34(11) (2002): 2071-81.

7 S. Castles “Why Migration Policies Fail” Ethnic and Racial Studies 27(2) (2004): 205-27.

8 The interviews were part of a broader ESRC study of more than 80 black Zimbabweans, 40 of whom were interviewed individually, and the rest in groups. Participants in the study were chosen to reflect diverse legal statuses and different forms of skilled and unskilled employment. The interviews from the broader study are also drawn upon to throw further light on comparisons between the care sector and other areas of work.

9 Major centres of Zimbabwean settlement outside London are Luton, Leeds, Slough and Leicester; there are significant numbers in Manchester, Birmingham and Coventry. However, Zimbabweans in the UK are scattered, partly because of the policy of dispersal of asylum seekers and partly because of the importance of care work, for example, in coastal and other retirement centres.

10 Smaller estimates relate to ‘core’ staff of residential homes and domiciliary care agencies. The larger figure includes NHS health care assistants, NHS agency staff and others (Skills for Care, “The State of the Social Care Workforce, 2004” Leeds, 2005, pp. 6, 26). It is not clear whether all ‘temporary’ staff are included. Eighty percent of carers are women, with the gender imbalance rising to 95 percent in some segments of the market, though men outnumber women in strategic management roles. In this chapter, ‘care worker’ and ‘carer’ are used loosely and interchangeably.

11 Commission for Social Care Inspection, Chief Inspectors Report, 2005.

12 Laing & Buisson, “Care of Elderly People: Market Survey 2003” London, 2003.

13 Ibid; Laing & Buisson, “Domiciliary Care Markets 2003” London, 2003.

14 C. Eborall and K. Garmeson, “Desk Research on Recruitment and Retention in Social Care and Social Work” Business and Industrial Market Research, Central Office of Information, Communications for the Department of Health, 2001, p. 7, 19; Skills for Care, “The State of the Social Care Workforce, p. 7.

15 H. Garner, Undervalued Work, Underpaid Women: Women’s Employment in Care Homes (London: Fawcett, 1998) cited in S. Player and A. Pollock, “Longterm Care: From Public Responsibility to Private Good” Critical Social Policy 21(2) (2001), p. 250; UNISON, “At Home with Low Pay: Residential Care” Briefing for the NJC Local Government Pay Commission, London, 2003; UNISON, “Working for Local Communities: Domiciliary Care” Briefing for the NJC Local Government Pay Commission, London, 2003; J. Wills, “On the Front Line of Care: A Research Report to Explore Home Care Employment and Service Provision in Tower Hamlets” London, 2003.

16 UNISON, “At Home with Low Pay.”

17 Many Zimbabweans interviewed in this study had worked for agencies with a predominantly Zimbabwean or Southern African staff. The labour force of other subcontracted service providers can show similar concentrations – cleaning, catering, porterage and security work in parts of East London, for example, are dominated by Africans; see J. Wills, Mapping Low Pay in East London (London: TELCO and UNISON, 2001), p. 3.

18 M. Samers, “The ‘Underground Economy,’ Immigration and Economic Development in the European Union: An Agnostic-Sceptic Perspective” International Journal of Economic Development 6(3) (2005): 199-272.

19 B. Anderson and B. Rogaly, Forced Labour and Migration to the UK (Oxford: COMPAS in collaboration with the Trades Union Congress, 2005).

20 A. Bloch and L. Schuster, “At the Extremes of Exclusion: Deportation, Detention and Dispersal” Ethnic and Racial Studies 28(1) (2004): 491-512.

21 T. Ranger, “Out of the Glass Cage: The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal’s Determination of Friday October 2005” British Zimbabwe Society Newsletter, November 2005, pp. 1-2.

22 Ibid.

23 Ibid; T. Ranger, “The Narratives and Counternarratives of Zimbabwean Asylum: Female Voices” Third World Quarterly 26(3) (2005): 405-21.

24 Ranger, “The Narratives and Counternarratives.”

25 Interview 14, Oxford, 9 November 2004.

26 Interview 9, Slough, 25 November 2004.

27 Interview 27, Aldershot, 5 December 2004.

28 Interview 17, Oxford, 9 November 2004.

29 Interview 20, Woking, 13 October 2004.

30 Interview 54, Dagenham, 11 March 2005.

31 Interview 5, High Wycombe, 13 March 2005.

32 Interview 24, Crawley, 13 October 2004.

33 See Pasura (in this volume).

34 Interview 56, Surrey, 16 October 2004.

35 Interview 12, Woking, 13 November 2004.

36 Interviews with employers: 71, Leeds 22 April 2005, NE London, 25 April 2005.

37 Interview 59, Sutton (SW London), 10 October 2004.

38 Interview 10 and 11, Woking, 13 November 2004.

39 Interview 25, Camberwell (SE London), 5 October 2004.

40 Anderson and Rogaly, Forced Labour; Buchan et al., “Should I Stay.”

41 Interview 14, Oxford, 9 November 2004.

42 Interview 17, Oxford, 9 November 2004.

43 Interview 3, Woking, 21 November 2004.

44 Interview 22, Woking, 13 October 2004.

45 Interview 18, Oxford, 28 October 2004.

46 Interview 17, Oxford, 9 November 2004.

47 Interview 19, Oxford, 9 November 2004.

48 Interview 37, Luton, 4 November 2004.

49 Interviews 14,17, Oxford, 9 November 2004.

50 Interview 27, Aldershot, 5 December 2004.

51 Interview 21, Woking, 13 October 2004.

52 Interview 32, Oxford, 4 March 2005.

53 Interview 2, Woking, 19 November 2004.

54 Interview 26, Birmingham, 8 December 2004.

55 Interview 22, Woking, 13 October 2004.

56 Interview 54, Dagenham, 11 March 2005.

57 Interview 71, Leeds, 22 April 2005.

58 Interview 39, Luton, 4 November 2004.

59 Interview 29, Aldershot, 5 December 2004.

60 See also Mbiba, “Contentious Transformations and Global Citizenship.”

61 Interview 17, Oxford, 9 November 2004.

62 Interview 42, Birmingham, 6 March 2005.

63 Interview 1, Woking, 18 November 2004.

64 Interview 21, Woking, 13 October 2004.

65 Interview 23, Crawley, 13 October 2004.

66 Interview 32, Oxford, 4 March 2005.

67 Interview 20, Woking, 13 October 2004.

68 Interview 12, Woking, 13 November 2004.

NO LIFE AT ALL

We didn’t know how things were in the UK before we came, but we thought it would be very different from how we found it. I am a schoolteacher. I tried teaching for three months but then I left. It was in London, primary schools in Peckham. I couldn’t take the behaviour, they were very rude. It was supply teaching jobs. The staff were racist and the children would call you all sorts of names, very rude. The approach to teaching is so different. Also I didn’t have papers and couldn’t get a proper job. You’d be moving from school to school. It was very difficult to get into the system, and very stressful.

Care work is no better than teaching. It’s just desperation. I also tried that, but the hours are very few, you only get 3-4 hours a day. There’s no future in care work. You just need to use it as a stepping stone, just to move on and up. Hospital work can be better. It’s more organized. You can tell management about abuses. In nursing homes they’ll just tell you to do it or leave. But I’m not using my brain only my muscles. I can fund my studies by doing extra hours. Accounting would be a better field for me. I’m doing Level 2 accounting right now.

We have no social life. We’re always busy. Always thinking of going for a shift. Those who are here have no life. We get very depressed. It’s no life at all. We don’t talk of going out. It’s like a waste of time. What can I do? I’ll be losing money when I could be earning. There are all sorts of relations to support back home. The children are back home. I wouldn’t want to bring up a child here. But it’s very hard having the kids back home. It’s not easy to send money. It can take a week or even a month. You can’t trust charities or burial societies. Your money can get lost. We make our plans just in the family.

I thought I’d go back home after 2-3 years but after 6 years I’m still here. It’s home here now. If nothing changes I’ll still be here in 6 years from now. It’s taking too long. The idea was to just work for a few years and then go back home. The life is miserable and we really miss home. Maybe it’s the weather. You can’t go out, transport is very expensive and we don’t visit friends because they’ll be working. Everyone is so busy. My behaviour has changed. Now I drink just to leave the stress, just to forget. I never drank at home.

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Chapter Eight
Regendering the Zimbabwean
Diaspora in Britain

Dominic Pasura

Zimbabweans in Britain display most of the features commonly ascribed to a diaspora such as involuntary and voluntary dispersion of the population from the homeland; settlement in foreign territories and an uneasy relationship with the hostland; strong attachment and connection to the original homeland; and the maintenance of distinct diasporic identities.1 However, little consideration has been paid to the gendering of the Zimbabwean diaspora experience which runs the risk of normalizing male experiences.2 The gendering of the Zimbabwean diaspora offers a lens through which to analyse men and women’s migration experience in both the private and public spheres. Taking gender as a process rather than a state, this chapter explores the conflicts and contestations that arise as men and women respond to life in Britain. To what extent, and in what ways, does migration shape gender relations and gender roles in both the private and public spheres of the diaspora? How do men and women respond to new gendered identities in the diaspora? To what extent do public spaces influence the negotiation of gender relations and gender roles within and outside diaspora households?

Life in Britain has forced most Zimbabweans to rethink their social and gendered positions within society, making the diaspora a site of cultural conflicts. The conflicts are manifest at many levels, but they are most visible within diaspora households and at religious and social gatherings. A distinction between private and public patriarchy is useful in teasing out the different sites and arenas in which gender relations are made and remade in the diaspora.3 Private patriarchy is “based upon household production as the main site of women’s oppression. Public patriarchy is based principally in public sites such as employment and the state.”4 In this chapter, the notion of private patriarchy is used to analyse diaspora households, while public patriarchy is employed to analyse political, social and religious diasporic spaces.

The chapter is based upon multi-sited fieldwork among Zimbabweans in Britain that made use of the ethnographic methods of in-depth interviews and participant observation to generate data.5 The author conducted 33 in-depth interviews over a period of 12 months from July 2005 to June 2006. In devising the research design, particular attention was paid to the varied geographical contexts of Zimbabwean migrants in Britain. The research reported in this chapter was conducted in three contrasting types of public and private space. First, people’s homes in Wigan provided an opportunity to explore diasporic life in private spaces. Wigan provided access to asylum seekers and refugees, dispersed as part of the UK government’s dispersal policy. Secondly, there are public-private spaces for leisure and socialising where cultural identities are expressed through food, language, music and a sense of belonging; a Zimbabwean pub in Coventry and gochi-gochi in Birmingham.6 Thirdly, two diaspora church congregations, Forward in Faith Mission International (FIFMI) in Coventry and the Zimbabwean Catholic Church in Birmingham were selected. Diaspora congregations are extensions of Christian churches in Zimbabwe. Church services are conducted mainly in Shona or Ndebele. Services are public spaces for the performance and expression of cultural and religious identities and for enhancing social networks.

REDEFINING GENDER RELATIONS IN THE DIASPORA HOUSEHOLD

The majority of Zimbabweans in Britain are highly educated professionals and belong to middle- and upper-class families in Zimbabwe. All come from a country with a very different set of gender relations, compared with that of Britain. Sihle Dube, a divorced mother of two, contrasted the two in this way:

The Zimbabwean man is an African man, he is used to be the one who brings more money in the house and the woman does all the cooking. The husband is a husband, there aren’t equal partners. Once they were brought here, this equality whereby the woman comes from the job where she has been working 12 hours, probably she has been working from 8am to 8pm. By the time she arrives home, she is tired and wants to relax. In Zimbabwe we don’t do that. In Zimbabwe we both go to work, we come back and the husband picks the newspaper and read it and the woman might go and cook the meal. There are no problems whatsoever but here it suddenly becomes a big, big problem.7

In Zimbabwe, although some women are in paid work, they are still expected to carry out all the household duties. It is also common for middle-class families to rely on maids and extended family labour to do household chores. Dube underlined how the re-negotiation of gender relations and roles in the diaspora has become a contested area. Tendai Gotora, an undocumented migrant who got married in the UK and has no children, explained the parallel roles of men and women thus: “Most women in Zimbabwe are housewives and if they work they may be running a shop […] their role is to look after the husbands. A man is a provider; he is a breadwinner in the home.”8 Almost without exception, the respondents described the position of women in the family and society in Zimbabwe as inferior to the superior position of men. However, these “traditional customs” are being contested in the diaspora, and some have undergone transformation. What factors influence these changes and how have they contributed to the reconstruction of gender relations?

One of the key findings of this study relates to the economic and social upward mobility of women in contrast with men. The majority of respondents acknowledged that some women “are now the main breadwinners for their families.” Steven Mavhondo, for example, is married and has three children:

We have situations where women are breadwinners because probably the wife has got the visa that allows her to work. If you come here and you are a teacher and a nurse, then automatically you are the breadwinner because you have the work permit. But if you come here and you were the Chief Immigration Officer no one can give you that job here, regardless of how powerful you were and how you used to boss your wife, here you have to baby-sit because nobody is going to give you a job.9

Fidelis Banga who is married with two children, provided another example: “You see women being the breadwinners; they are supporting their husbands and telling them they earn the money. They have changed from being housekeepers to being economic players. We have seen women owning houses now.”10 Some women are now the principal and sole breadwinner and this has brought tensions to some households, prompting the re-evaluation of both marriage and migration by men and women.

In Zimbabwe, the male partner was “expected” to be the main or only breadwinner. Although some women in Zimbabwe are in paid work and make a financial contribution to their households, this happens without challenging prevailing gender norms. The current economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe has undoubtedly eroded the role of men as breadwinners as families seek any means to survive in harsh economic conditions. Over 40 percent of Zimbabwean migrants are now women. Within the diaspora context, most men now play the supporting role because they do jobs that pay less or because employers shun their skills. The majority of Zimbabwean women in the diaspora are in paid work. In most cases, they work as nurses, care-givers, social workers and teachers. The re-negotiation of gender relations and roles in the diaspora cannot simply be attributed to women’s contribution to family income. There is no evidence that men are satisfied with the loss of their pre-migration breadwinner status and the authority that entailed. On the contrary, most of the male respondents in this study had more than one job so that they could earn enough to warrant designation as provider for the family.

Men’s hegemonic masculinity is threatened as more and more women assume financial control. Most of the male respondents referred to the shift in the balance of power in diaspora households when women do paid work. Women’s access to an independent income, which in most cases is more than that of the husband, threatens men’s hegemonic masculinity which centres on being the main provider and decision-maker in the family. Most of the women claimed to have control over how they used their salaries, unlike in Zimbabwe. Florence Tembo said that with herself and her husband, “each person decides how to use his or her own money.”11 This is something that would have been inconceivable in Zimbabwe, where her husband did not even allow her to own a bank account. Bernard Moyo explained that “here women have their own bank accounts and decide what to do with their money.”12 Moyo was a lawyer in Zimbabwe and he followed his wife, who is in the nursing profession, to the UK. He blamed institutional discrimination for his inability to practice law in the UK.

Because of financial decision-making autonomy, some women are investing in the UK by taking out mortgages. Sihle Dube explained:

In some cases, it is husbands that followed and when the husband followed here, they were staying in the house bought by the woman because she owns the mortgage, and this husband also in terms of immigration he is a dependant on the woman. That caused a lot of marriages to break.13

What is significant about this scenario is that women are the primary migrants and their decision-making power within the households has increased, to the extent of buying houses on their own. By contrast, concern with property in Zimbabwe is a common feature among the majority of male black Zimbabweans. Mthokhozisi Ndlovu regarded as “infectious” the extent to which diasporans are “buying houses, housing stands, kombis (minibus taxis), lorries and buses in the UK and Japan” and shipping them to Zimbabwe.14

Within the context of Zimbabwean migration, the issue of who is the primary migrant is also important. The ability to get a visa or work permit significantly impacts on the distribution of power within households. Whereas in the past men dominated migration, women are at the centre of the recent migration to Britain.15 In cases where women were the primary migrant, it has empowered them to take decisions that they would not have made in the country of origin. The “feminization of migration” is redefining the gender status of men and women in the diaspora. As Mthokhozisi Ndlovu noted:

Women were the first to come and it was only late that men followed. If a man was a manager in Zim Sun (Zimbabwe Sun Hotel) when he arrives, he has to work in the care-giving sector. During the early days, the husband will be left at home with kids while the woman goes for work, clubs and disco.16

The trailing husband’s dependant label creates an indelible inferiority within men. Hence, changing gender relations cannot be wholly attributed to the fact that more women are working outside the home; other factors such as who was the primary migrant are also important.

The restructuring of gender relations and gender roles in diaspora households has often become the source of significant conflict. Changing gender relations have resulted in marriage breakdowns, men losing their role as head of the family, men returning to Zimbabwe, low-earning husbands assuming double shifts and, for some, the re-adjustment of gender roles. Although no divorce statistics are available, most respondents concurred that marriages were facing severe strain and some were collapsing. Many diasporic marriages had failed to adjust and were thus breaking up. Rudo Muchineripi, a divorcee, described why he thought Zimbabwean marriages were failing: “Men have had to knuckle down and help out. Where this has not been the case in marriages then divorces have resulted. Marriages are under so much pressure in this country.”17 Fidelis Banga had a similar explanation:

The divorce rate of Zimbabweans in the UK has increased, you bring in your wife today and she starts working and earning and there is problem in the house. The balance of power is shifting [...] many people came with strong marriages but when they are in the UK it’s hard to sustain them […] Migration has destroyed the institution of marriage.18

What Banga meant by “strong marriage” is undoubtedly the “traditional” marriage of male power and female subordination.

The waning of male authority in diaspora households raises major doubts about the future and viability of conventional Zimbabwean marriage in the UK:

There is no future for a Zimbabwean marriage in the UK. Not at all. You can’t stand a marriage in the UK when you are under your wife. If you shout at her she dials 999 and the police will come and tell you that “you are committing an assault” you can be arrested for it. So you have no chance, you aren’t the head of the house. You are only the head of the house when it comes to paying the bills, because the bills come in your name and that is the end of the story.19

Bernard Moyo said he felt that conflict in marriages and the high divorce rate were due to the fact that “women are asserting their rights, having separate budgets, or the women saying you are the men of the house so meet all the bills and the woman enjoying her money.”20 As Kandiyoti argues, “different forms of patriarchy present women with distinct “rules of the game” and call for different strategies to maximise security and optimise life options with varying potential for active or passive resistance in the face of oppression.”21 Some women in the Zimbabwean diaspora may thus be playing the “rules of the game” by insisting that men pay all the bills since they consider themselves the “head of the household.”

The absence of the extended family and the lack of proximate kinship ties in the diaspora contribute to the high divorce rate. Extended families and kinship ties are central to the production and reproduction of gendered ideologies in Zimbabwe. For the majority of women, the diasporic context helps them to question basic assumptions about traditional gender roles and relations and consequently enables them to carve out new gendered identities without having to negotiate with extended families. However, the lack of familial space and network ties with other Zimbabweans can create a deep feeling of uprootedness and isolation. The experience of racism and exclusion by Zimbabweans in Wigan, for example, has actually made some marriages stronger, according to at least one respondent:

In terms of those who came here, some of their marriages are even stronger than they used to be back home mainly because you are in the midst of a community which doesn’t like you, the only social life I have is that with my wife, thus we tend to bond. Just like if you go into prison when you are two you end up having a stronger bond.22

Households that feel ostracized or excluded in places of settlement are thus likely to experience a more gradual transformation of gender relations and gender roles.

MALE RESPONSES TO LOSS OF AUTHORITY

The evidence suggests that a “dependent” husband lacks the authority to make major decisions within the family. Migration to Britain has catapulted some women from the confines of the domestic sphere into the public sphere of work. While women have moved significantly into the public sphere, men have moved to a lesser degree into the private sphere, a process that has shaken up men’s authority in the household. As Tonderai Ncube noted from his own experience: “Now she is going to work and she is getting £5 an hour and I am getting £5 an hour and now there is nothing I can tell her.”23 In this case, his primary breadwinner role had become less relevant and he was no longer the sole authority. His position within the marriage was thus becoming increasingly insecure. Moreover, he thought that the UK government had also usurped his power to maintain and control his children and family by giving them state benefits, which are directly paid to his wife: “So the government is the hero of my family. What would I say, that’s the end of the story.” Hence, men’s authority and power as head of the family, previously derived from having access to economic resources and through kinship relations, has been contested and weakened.

Some migrant men who feel threatened, particularly when they are unable to fulfil their expected role as breadwinners, return to Zimbabwe. Farai Chenzira portrayed their predicament as follows: “We have a number of men who have left because their wives were nurses and they were managers of progressive companies back home […] He would rather remain as a manager there than having [a]woman managing the house as a breadwinner.”24 Sihle Dube told the story of how a woman had used the immigration system to prevent her spouse from returning to the UK:

I heard a funny case from Luton where the wife sent the husband home when they were having some problems. When he was there she told the Home Office she doesn’t need him anymore and the Home Office took advantage and said, “we are just interested in you the nurse and not your husband” so they blocked him from coming back. He is still struggling to come back because he can’t cope in Zimbabwe.25

Many Zimbabwean men work double shifts to compensate for the low wages they get from unskilled jobs. As Tapfumanei Chuma explained:

Imagine a lawyer back in Zimbabwe who was married to a nurse. She today earns more than the husband and sometimes he is not yet working as a lawyer. He is going for the industrial shifts in the manufacturing industry, he is not getting as much as he would have wanted to warrant him as the head of the family. This is destructive if the wife does not consider it properly.26

For him, “proper” consideration consists of the wife accepting her subordinate role in spite of being the main breadwinner. This highlights how the breadwinner roles can be reversed and reconfigure power relations within the household and may even result in marriage breakdown. However, working double shifts can also be seen as a financial strategy to accumulate money as quickly as possible for those with precarious immigration status or to remit home.

There is certainly evidence that migration has meant greater involvement of men in household chores:

The main difference is that my husband helps me to cook and does most of the shopping. I do not think if we were in Zimbabwe he would do the same for two reasons. Firstly, it is most likely that we would have a housemaid. Secondly, peer pressure would dissuade him from doing housework. This has not affected our family negatively because we both work and there is no way I can be expected to do everything without his assistance, therefore it is […] positive for our family.27

Men here have to adapt to a certain way of life in which they have to learn to do some things they wouldn’t have done in Zimbabwe like learning how to cook, wash their own clothes, clean up the house. Whereas in Zimbabwe it’s very rare to find a man doing these household chores. Here it’s part of our lives; it’s something that you have to do.28

Patricia Sibanda, the first respondent, inadvertently reproduced the narrative construction of housework as a female sphere when she described the husband’s household chores as “help.” Moreover, her admission that the changing gender roles have not affected her family negatively implies that this is not a contested terrain in many migrant households. Tendai Gotora, the second respondent, appeared to accept that the economic demands of life in the UK are a sufficient condition for some sharing of household tasks.

A third male respondent suggested that it had become “almost normal” for men to undertake household chores that were socially constructed as women’s roles prior to migration: “In Zimbabwe you knew that there is a woman who changes nappies and diapers, who cooks and when you come here it changes and this may affect [marriage]…. It’s almost normal that when my wife is seating I just take my son upstairs and change his nappies and diapers.”29 Commenting further on this process of “normalization” he observed: “What we just did in Zimbabwe was the marriage thing. So from its infancy, apart from the courtship, the marriage after wedding was only in UK. So it really didn’t affect me in anything.” The explanation makes a distinction between marriages undertaken in Zimbabwe and in Britain. Implicit in his argument is that marriages entered into in Zimbabwe prior to migration experience a far greater rupture than those carried out post-migration. There is a qualitative difference between the two types of marriage, but in both cases the institution of marriage is going through radical transformation in terms of gender roles and relations.

The reconfiguration of gender relations and roles within the family in Britain is generally welcomed by women. One described the experience of sharing housework with her husband as “liberating […] to be honest, life in the UK is better for me because my husband sometimes help[s] me with housework when there is too much work for me. He normally cleans the house with a Hoover machine and also does the ironing more than in Zimbabwe. He wouldn’t do this in Zimbabwe.”30

NEW DOMESTIC RELATIONSHIPS

A significant new phenomenon emerging in the diaspora is the “move-in” household, a form of cohabitation.31 Here a man and woman live together without going through Shona or Ndebele marriage customs. Although the institution of marriage in contemporary Zimbabwe has a variety of forms, there are common elements. For the Ndebele and Shona people, for example, the concept of marriage, whether civil or Christian, is primarily a contract between two families.32 The main purpose of marriage is the continuation and growth of the family tree.

In contrast, for the “move-in” household in the UK, marriage is a contract between two individuals. These households are formed for a number of pragmatic reasons that have nothing to do with the extended family. As one respondent explained: “What I know is that men who are here don’t marry – they just do move-in. They stay together for four or five years and perhaps have a kid without marrying each other.”33 In the diaspora move-in household, however, the main purpose is not to have children but to increase the economic and social well-being of the individuals concerned. Sihle Dube attributed the phenomenon to people’s “immigration status and loneliness.”34 Bernard Moyo, who followed his wife to the UK, referred to the practice as “very rare in Zimbabwe but common in this country” and believed that some “move-in to share expenses.”35

Dube’s reference to immigration status as a reason for “move-in” relates to regularisation if the other person has legal status in the country. The introduction of visas by the UK government in November 2002 hindered the reunification of some families. Forced to live apart, some people in the diaspora resorted to move-in marriages. As Fidelis Banda explained, “I have also seen another phenomenon in which Zimbabweans are living double lives. Some women have the economic means; one has a family here and another husband in Zimbabwe, though both husbands are not aware of this.”36 Ndunduzo Nkomo described how men too “have married here even though they have wives back home. Yet other women came to work and failed to bring in their husbands, they have also got married in here.”37 In this sense, the UK marriage is like a move-in, a relationship of convenience, perhaps ephemeral in character.

Gender roles and relations among “move-in” couples are actually more egalitarian than in conventional marriages. Godfrey Vhareta who is in a move-in household, explained:

Both of us go to work and the differences are on what you get and what she gets and how you share your earnings. In Zimbabwe, we would put our resources together but here each does what is good to him or her. No one controls or is head of family anymore as we are all equal.38

In these households, patriarchal norms no longer shape men and women’s understandings of their own position. Migration has resulted in the re-negotiation of gender relations and roles and the reordering of the institution of marriage itself.

The diaspora has also seen a rise in the number of lone parent households. As Farai Chenzira noted: “What I have also seen changing is the strong development of the single parent phenomenon, it is so rampant now.”39 The phenomenon has resulted from two situations. First, lone parent households are a consequence of the increasing separation and divorce rate in the diaspora. Second, there are many couples living in “separate worlds” (one in the UK and the other in Zimbabwe or South Africa) because both were unable to get visas to the UK.

PUBLIC SPACES AND GENDER ROLES

Public spaces in the diaspora are a site for re-affirming “traditional” Zimbabwean narratives. While there are many factors affecting the private (re)formation of Zimbabwean gender roles and relations in the diaspora, these changes are often contested in public spaces such as the diaspora church congregation, the pub and gochi-gochi.

What is it in the UK, or among Zimbabweans, that brings them together in religious worship in their own idiom and congregations? The conditions of racial discrimination in the labour market, everyday racism and being defined as outsiders in the UK media all push the migrant group together. They have also developed a desire to create some form of identity in a multicultural society. The speaking of the Shona language, reading of the Scripture in the Shona Bible, preaching in Shona, singing in Shona accompanied by the hosho (a rattle) and African drums provides Zimbabwean women in particular with spiritual and emotional support and a sense of belonging. While the churches create a sense of community and cohesion, they also privilege pre-migration gender relations and roles.

Diaspora church congregations are therefore public spaces in which there is resistance to change in gender relations. Close to the Coventry pub is the Zimbabwean Pentecostal Church, FIFMI. The female-dominated congregation numbers between 60 and 70 people. Most of the women are married and in their early thirties. Although women are more numerous, they only have a supporting role in the running of the church service. They support their husbands when they go to the front, stand beside them when they preach and occasionally are asked to complement what their husband has already said. During the sermon on one field visit, the pastor quoted from Ephesians 5:22-24:

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head of the church, His Body, and is himself its saviour. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.

Another diaspora congregation researched was the Catholic Shona mass in Birmingham. People come from as far as Walsall and Wolverhampton for the church service. Again, women dominate the congregation of between 70 and 90 people attending the mass. Fewer than 25 men were present on each occasion. Some women, in their late thirties and early forties, wore Mbuya Anna and Mai Maria uniforms.40 They were also selling Shona Bibles and Shona hymnbooks. On one visit, a woman in her fifties, dressed in Mai Maria uniform, stood up and started reminding the congregation that they should follow the rules and sanctions of the church, as they knew them in Zimbabwe. Women were not allowed to receive Holy Communion without wearing a scarf on their heads and they were discouraged from wearing skin-tight clothes or mini-skirts when coming to church. “We should do things the way we were doing in Zimbabwe, as genuine Catholics,” she said.

Men are at the centre of the hierarchy and organisation of both diaspora churches. These congregations act as cultural reservoirs, not only for religious beliefs and language, but also for gender roles and relations. Consciously or unconsciously, men use diaspora churches as a means of social control over women as the churches emphasise the importance of “doing things the way they are done back home.” The empowerment of women in the private sphere through paid work, financial autonomy and the fragmentation of marriages, is contested and resisted in the public sphere of diaspora churches that extol Christian values and Zimbabwean “traditions” that situate the husband as the head of the family and the wife as a subordinate. Some women, such as the respondent cited above, accept and reinforce this commitment to preserving the gender “norms” of Zimbabwe. However, the majority of women who attend diaspora congregations are in their thirties and early forties, arguably with no vested interest in retaining the patriarchal family.

The pub is another public gendered space for migrants, albeit a distinctly male one. The owner of the Zimbabwean pub in Coventry said she had invested a lot of money in trying to make the pub family-friendly and attract Zimbabwean women but failed. Some of the products in the pub, such as cigarettes and packets of nuts, had the label, “proudly Zimbabwean.” If women and men have the same interests and preferences, in terms of longing for products such as Zimbabwean music and beer, then why are women underrepresented in the pub?

Most of the male respondents invoked ‘culture’ to explain why the pub remained a male space. As one explained: “I don’t like to bring my wife to the pub or club for that matter. What happens when I am not around? What will prevent her from coming to the pub and having fun? I am not saying she mustn’t have fun but it is just against our culture.”41 Very occasionally some women visit the pub but only in the company of male friends or husbands. Women are therefore considered by men as the bearers and preservers of culture to the extent that women conform to the “cultural norm” of not going to pubs. However, men reinforce the norm by actively preventing their wives from coming to the pub.

The gochi-gochi owner said he occasionally asks women – rather than men – to cook sadza for him. This is significant because it extends the domestic “role” of women into a public space. The owner’s actions are predicated on the belief that women are appropriate for certain kinds of work, such as cooking sadza. What used to be women’s work in the home is now women’s work at the gochi-gochi. For men, gochi-gochi and the pub, in particular, are places where their lost manhood is regained and re-imagined. These spaces give them an opportunity to position themselves and reconstruct their identity in the diaspora by discussing life beyond the diaspora.

CONCLUSION

Migration has led to radical changes in gender relations and roles between men and women in the Zimbabwean diaspora. Men are forced through circumstance to do household work and care for children, a thing they would not have imagined doing in Zimbabwe. For women, migration has narrowed their housework responsibilities and opened up opportunities in the public sphere of work, but they work long hours for low pay. Women now have greater financial autonomy in terms of how they want to use their money. The possession and control of their own income has become a means for the transformation of gender relations within the household. The absence of extended families and proximate kinship ties in the diaspora provides a space for the articulation and shedding of “traditional” gender roles. Most men envisage the changes as a passing phase, believing that they will eventually return home and recover their hegemonic masculinity.

This chapter has shown that the factors that influence the changing of gender roles and relations in the diaspora go beyond women’s participation in the labour market and financial autonomy. They also include the egalitarian values, norms and laws in the destination country and immigration status (especially where women are the primary migrants and men have a “dependent” label). All these factors challenge patriarchal gender roles and relations. The re-evaluation of the traditional marriage contract has seen increased domestic conflict, accelerated marriage dissolution, a growth in lone parent households and new forms of partnership marriage (such as the more egalitarian move-in household).

Women have certainly made greater gains in the private domain than in the public sphere, where they continue to experience patriarchal exclusion and control. Diaspora congregations, the pub and gochi-gochi are public spaces where men (and older women in particular) resist the changes that are happening within diaspora households. In the public spaces created in the diaspora, men resist changes in the private domain and seek to assert male authority in households through appealing to pre-migration norms, values and practices.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The author and editors wish to thank Koninklijke Brill NV for permission to publish a revised version of the article that first appeared in African Diaspora 1(1-2) (2008), pp. 86-109.

NOTES

1 See D. Pasura, “A Fractured Diaspora: Strategies and Identities among Zimbabweans in Britain” PhD Thesis, University of Warwick, 2008.

2 J. Clifford, “Diasporas” Cultural Anthropology 9 (3) (1994), p. 313.

3 S. Walby, Theorizing Patriarchy (Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, 1990).

4 Ibid, p. 24.

5 All names in this study have been changed to protect respondents.

6 Gochi-gochi is a Shona word for barbecue, an event where people gather and spend cash with friends roasting meat and drinking beer.

7 Interview with Sihle Dube, 13 April 2006.

8 Interview with Tendai Gotora, 5 February 2006.

9 Interview with Steven Mavhondo, 11 December 2005.

10 Interview with Fidelis Banga, 20 November 2005.

11 Interview with Florence Tembo, 22 May 2006.

12 Interview with Bernard Moyo, 4 April 2006.

13 Interview with Sihle Dube.

14 Interview with Mthokhozisi Ndlovu, 29 May 2006.

15 B. Mbiba, “Zimbabwe’s Global Citizens in ‘Harare North:’ Some Observations” In M. Palmberg and R. Primorac, eds., Skinning the Skunk: Facing Zimbabwean Futures (Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 2005), pp 26-38.

16 Interview with Mthokhozisi Ndlovu.

17 Interview with Rudo Muchineripi, 15 November 2006.

18 Interview with Fidelis Banga.

19 Interview with Tonderai Ncube, 4 January 2006.

20 Interview with Bernard Moyo.

21 D. Kandiyoti, “Bargaining with Patriarchy” Gender and Society 2(3) (1988), p. 274.

22 Interview with Rutendo Mwanzenyi, 17 February 2006.

23 Interview with Tonderai Ncube.

24 Interview with Farai Chenzira, 15 December 2005.

25 Interview with Sihle Dube.

26 Interview with Tapfumanei Chuma, 3 March 2006.

27 Interview with Patricia Sibanda, 21 October 2005.

28 Interview with Tendai Gotora.

29 Interview with Bernard Moyo.

30 Interview with Florence Tembo.

31 ‘Move-in’ is an expression that has been adopted by Zimbabweans to describe a situation where partners move in and stay together without following any traditional or civil marriage procedures.

32 M. Bourdillon, The Shona Peoples (Gweru: Mambo Press, 1976); C. Stoneman and L. Cliffe, Zimbabwe: Politics, Economics and Society (London: Pinter Publishers, 1989).

33 Interview with Margaret Muchaneta, 6 October 2005.

34 Interview with Sihle Dube.

35 Interview with Bernard Moyo.

36 Interview with Fidelis Banda.

37 Interview with Ndunduzo Nkomo, 16 November 2005.

38 Interview with Godfrey Vhareta, 25 September 2005.

39 Interview with Farai Chenzira.

40 Mbuya Anna and Mai Maria are Catholic women’s associations for married women.

41 Interview with Tendai Gotora.

SURVIVING WELL

I was born in Harare in 1960 and although my parents are both late, my brothers and sisters are all still there. When I lived in Zimbabwe, I was a pre-school teacher for seven years and then I worked as a domestic for a while. I left that and joined as a security guard. Life wasn’t rosy as a security guard. Then I learned how to do art and joined the art gallery in Zimbabwe. After a while, I was invited here to South Africa to come and exhibit my artwork, which I did. And then I was invited to a gallery in South Africa where I demonstrated my artwork and again people really liked it. Each time I came to South Africa I would stay for three to six months and then go home again. And each time I came to South Africa, I saw that life was rosy here.

In 1991, I decided to come here to Johannesburg and open my own business. I stay here now with my second husband (who is a South African), three of my own daughters, two adopted daughters from my two late sisters (there are two more in Zimbabwe doing schooling) and my son from my second marriage. So I am looking after eight kids and only two of them are working. I only go back to Zimbabwe about once a year, depending on the situation with my brothers and sisters. Last year my sister was ill so I went home. I send money when someone is ill and they need to go to a doctor or if they need medicine but it’s unavailable at home, they send me the prescription and I buy it for them here. These brothers and sisters come back and forth to South Africa so they take groceries back home with them and I help with this. When I have big orders I invite my brothers and sisters for three weeks. They help out and then they take groceries back home.

At first I had a stand at a mall for a while but when the rent went up I couldn’t afford it anymore. Now I have a stand at the Sunday craft market at Rosebank. I now have customers all over in America and the UK. I have networks overseas and have travelled to Ottawa to stay with friends and sell all my art. My daughter helped me with that airfare and I’m still in touch with my friends there. The lodges [in South Africa] are all ordering from me as well. I’m working at beefing up the market. I turned our garage into my workshop so that I don’t disturb my husband when I work.

I want my relatives in Zimbabwe to survive well. I want my daughters to carry on with my artwork. For the family to be in this world it’s through this art. This business of art wasn’t really mine. I think it was given by God to say this is my family and this is what I was meant to do. When my daughters are off from their work for the day, they’re in the workshop doing art. I’m worried about my daughter who is in boarding school in Zimbabwe. I can’t rest if the family back home is suffering.

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Chapter Nine
Zimbabwe in Johannesburg

Daniel Makina

Johannesburg has become the major destination for Zimbabwean migrants over the last decade. Although Zimbabwean migrants are increasingly dispersed throughout South Africa, the 2001 South African Census showed that 80 percent of recorded Zimbabweans lived in inner-city Johannesburg. This chapter presents the results of the largest survey yet undertaken of Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa. The survey was undertaken in mid-2007 in three suburbs of inner-city Johannesburg – Hillbrow, Berea and Yeoville – and provides unprecedented insights into the profile, activities and migrant behaviour of Zimbabweans in South Africa’s largest city.

A total of 4,654 Zimbabwean migrants (excluding visitors and informal cross-border traders) were interviewed in the study. Convenience sampling was used to identify respondents. While questions may be asked about the representativeness of the sample, its large size and the fact that so many Zimbabweans are concentrated in inner-city Johannesburg means that the results are probably reasonably representative, with some exceptions. Some poorer and unskilled migrant workers are known to cluster in informal settlements around Johannesburg, for example, and they are obviously not represented in this sample.1 Neither are Zimbabwean farmworkers in the border areas of Limpopo province.2 In addition, migration patterns between Zimbabwe and South Africa have shifted since 2001 and the proportion of Zimbabwean migrants living in Johannesburg might well have fallen below 80 percent.

As a result, this study makes no claims to understanding the Zimbabwean migrant population in South Africa as a whole. Rather, it provides an important snapshot of the Zimbabwean population of contemporary Johannesburg. However, many of the findings of this survey about Johannesburg’s Zimbabwean population are consistent with a SAMP survey of a national sample of migrants from Zimbabwe undertaken in 2005.3 This provides independent corroboration of the reliability of this survey. In this chapter, where appropriate, comparisons are made between the findings of the two surveys.

MIGRATION NUMBERS AND TRENDS

Migration from Zimbabwe to South Africa for employment has a lengthy history.4 However, the numbers have escalated dramatically over the last decade. The Johannesburg survey showed a marked growth in migration after 2000. Only 8 percent of those interviewed had arrived in the city before 1999; the rest arrived after 1999 (Figures 9.1 and 9.2). Between 2001 and 2006, the average annual growth rate for new arrivals was 34 percent.

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Figure 9.1: Annual Arrivals in Johannesburg

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Figure 9.2: Cumulative Zimbabwean Population in Johannesburg

The number of Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa is an issue mired in controversy. Figures of around 3-4 million are commonly cited in the South African and international media, without any real empirical backing. The 2001 South African Census recorded a total of 131,886 Zimbabwean-born people in South Africa. The accuracy of this figure is difficult to determine because census disclosure is voluntary and there are many reasons why irregular Zimbabweans would have had no interest in revealing where they were from. However, the figure is a useful baseline from which to determine the subsequent growth of the Zimbabwean population in South Africa.

In the Census, 104,988 out of a national total of 131,866 (80 percent) Zimbabweans were living in inner-city Johannesburg (Table 9.1). If we assume, first, that the rate of growth of the sample was typical of all Zimbabweans in Johannesburg and, second, that the rate of growth of the Zimbabwean population in Johannesburg was mimicked nationally, then it is possible to make some inferences about the changing numbers of Zimbabweans in South Africa. Using the 2001 Zimbabwean population of South Africa as a baseline, and the annual growth rates of the Zimbabwean population of Johannesburg, it is possible to estimate a figure for each of the years from 2002 to 2007 (Table 9.2). This methodology yields a total Zimbabwean population of just over one million in 2007, well below the fanciful estimates of the South African media and officialdom.

Table 9.1: Location of Zimbabweans in Johannesburg, 2001

Suburb

Male

Female

Total

Berea

22,434

18,236

40,670

Hillbrow

27,025

22,587

49,611

Yeoville

7,728

6,979

14,707

Total

57,187

47,802

104,988

Source: StatsSA.

Table 9.2: Zimbabwean Population in South Africa, 2001-2007

Year

Cumulative Sample Population

Annual Growth Rate (%)

Estimated Migrant Population in South Africa

2001

662

 

131,886

2002

882

33

175,715

2003

1,283

45

255,604

2004

1,887

47

375,935

2005

2,622

39

522,364

2006

3,832

46

763,425

2007

5,453

34*

1,022,965

*Average of previous 5 years.

ZIMBABWEAN MIGRANTS IN PROFILE

Understanding migrant motivation and behaviour, why one person leaves and another stays, is an extremely complex issue. People rarely migrate for a single reason or without some calculation or comparison between where they are and where they intend to go. In this study, migrants were asked to say why they had left Zimbabwe and could give multiple responses. Their responses were then classified into general groups: economic (including unemployment), political and other (including family reunification). Political reasons for migration were mentioned by 58 percent of respondents. They included political beatings, persecution, intimidation, torture, human rights abuses, Operation Murambatsvina (“Clear the Filth”) and, for older migrants, Gukurahundi (the massacres in Matabeleland in the 1980s). Economic and employment-related reasons for migrating were mentioned by 82 percent of respondents.

Interestingly, the balance between economic and political motivations varied over time. Migrants who arrived in Johannesburg before 2001 tended to give economic conditions in Zimbabwe and the search for better employment as the major reason for migrating. Between 2002 and 2005, political reasons became paramount. From 2005 – in the wake of Operation Murambatsvina, the collapse of the Zimbabwean dollar and rampant unemployment – economic reasons again came to the fore (Figure 9.3).

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Figure 9.3: Economic versus Political Reasons for Migration

Zimbabwean migrants in Johannesburg come from all parts of Zimbabwe. However, the majority are still from the southern provinces, as has always been the case. Nearly 40 percent of the sample gave Bulawayo as their home and another 30 percent were from the two southern Matabeleland provinces (Table 9.3). Eleven percent of the sample was from Harare which means that half of the migrants in Johannesburg came from Zimbabwe’s two largest cities. In other words, there is significant degree of urban to urban movement in migration from Zimbabwe to South Africa.

Table 9.3: Source Areas of Zimbabweans in Johannesburg

Province

No.

%

Harare

514

11

Bulawayo

1,825

39

Mashonaland Central

73

2

Mashonaland East

66

1

Mashonaland West

88

2

Matabeleland North

565

12

Matabeleland South

779

17

Midlands

359

8

Manicaland

177

4

Masvingo

177

4

N= 4,263

The Zimbabwean population of South Africa has, by most accounts, become more “mixed” and diverse in recent years. In gender terms, the survey showed evidence of the growing feminization of migration from Zimbabwe as more and more women have left in search of work. This pattern is now very different from other Southern African countries where male migration is still clearly the norm. A SAMP survey in 2005 found that for the region as a whole, 84 percent of migrants were male and 16 percent female.5 The female proportion varied from country to country – from 5 to 8 percent in the case of Botswana, Mozambique and Swaziland, to 16 percent in the case of Lesotho to 44 percent in the case of Zimbabwe.

One-third of the migrants in the Johannesburg sample who had arrived in the city before 1998 were female, confirming other SAMP evidence that extensive female migration from Zimbabwe certainly dates back at least to the early 1990s.6 The Johannesburg sample suggests that the proportion of female migrants in the migration stream continued to increase after 1998, (Figure 9.4). In 2006, 43 percent of the migrants were female. Overall, the gender breakdown of the Johannesburg migrant sample was 41 percent female and 59 percent male.

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Figure 9.4: Annual Arrivals in Johannesburg by Sex

Table 9.4: Age Profile of Zimbabweans in Johannesburg

Age Range

%

<18 years

1

18-20 years

5

21-30 years

40

31-40 years

40

41-50 years

13

>50 years

1

N = 4,627

The majority of Zimbabwean migrants in the three Johannesburg suburbs were of working age: 80 percent were between the ages of 20 and 40 (Table 9.4). Very few migrants were under the age of 20 or over the age of 50 (1 percent in each case). This might suggest that there is very limited youth or elderly migration from Zimbabwe to Johannesburg. However, the SAMP survey found that 16 percent of Zimbabwean migrants were under the age of 25 and 24 percent were over the age of 50.7 This would seem to suggest that other destinations in South Africa (smaller border towns and farms, for example) are attracting more younger and older migrants than Johannesburg.

A gender analysis of the age profile of Zimbabwean migrants shows that female migrants tend to be younger than males (Figure 9.5). Seven percent of female migrants were under the age of 20 compared to only 4.5 percent of males (Table 9.5). Fifty-four percent of female migrants were under the age of 30, compared to only 39 percent of male migrants. At the other end of the scale, 61 percent of male migrants were over the age of 30, compared to only 46 percent of female migrants. And finally, 19 percent of male migrants were over 40, compared to only 10 percent of females. Looked at by age group, there were actually more female migrants than male aged 18-20 (53 percent versus 47 percent). As the migrant population gets older, so the proportion of female migrants tends to decline (to only 28 percent for those aged 41-50).

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Figure 9.5: Age Profile of Zimbabwean Migrants in Johannesburg

Table 9.5: Age Profile of Zimbabwean Migrants by Sex

Age Range

% of All Females

% of All Males

Total %

% of Age Group Female

% of Age Group Male

Total

<18 years

0.8

0.6

0.7

48

52

100

18-20 years

6.2

3.9

4.8

53

47

100

21-30 years

47.0

35.3

40.2

47

53

100

31-40 years

36.2

42.5

39.8

38

62

100

41-50 years

8.6

16.1

13.0

28

72

100

>50 years

1.1

1.7

1.5

32

68

100

N= 4,626

Labour migration to South Africa was once the preserve of the single, unmarried young adults of the Zimbabwean household. This group constitutes only 36 percent of Zimbabwean migrants in Johannesburg.7 The fact that over half of the migrants are married or cohabiting is testimony to the extent to which patterns of migration to South Africa have changed over the last decade. In many Zimbabwean households, anyone who can work is now a candidate for migration whatever their age or marital status. Research in Lesotho shows that a significant proportion of the migrants (especially female) from that country are widowed, divorced or separated. Female household heads are forced to migrate to ensure the survival of the household.8 In the case of Zimbabwe, the numbers are not as high but these groups are not absent from the migrant flow. In the Johannesburg sample, 3 percent were widowed and 6 percent were divorced or separated. The diverse marital status of the Johannesburg sample is true of the Zimbabwean migrant population more generally. SAMP found that 32 percent were unmarried, 57 percent were married, 4 percent were widowed and 5 percent were divorced or separated.9

The survey turned up little evidence of independent child migration from Zimbabwe to Johannesburg, unlike in other parts of South Africa.10 This does not mean that there are no adult-accompanied children in the city. Indeed, a significant proportion of the migrants said that they had dependants within South Africa (55 percent). In the past, migrants tended to leave their families at home, and send earnings back to their relatives in Zimbabwe. The 2007 survey suggests that the situation may be becoming so dire in Zimbabwe that whole families are migrating to South Africa.

WORKING IN JOHANNESBURG

The Zimbabwean migrant population in South Africa is relatively well-educated, particularly compared to migrant streams from other SADC countries. For example, 15 percent of all migrants have no education compared to only 0.5 percent of Zimbabweans. Forty-three percent of all migrants only have primary education, compared to just 4 percent of Zimbabweans. On the other hand, 46 percent of Zimbabwean migrants have completed secondary school (compared to a regional average – excluding Zimbabweans – of 25 percent). Twenty-two percent of Zimbabwean migrants have a university or post-graduate degree (compared to a regional average of only 5 percent) and 28 percent have diplomas (compared to a regional average of 6 percent).11

Table 9.6: Educational Profile of Zimbabweans in Johannesburg

Education/Qualification Level

%

University degree

4

Professional qualification (including teachers and nurses)

15

Artisan qualification

3

Post-secondary diploma/certificate

10

Secondary education

62

Primary education/other

6

N= 4,624

In the Johannesburg sample, 62 percent of the migrants had completed secondary school, 15 percent had professional qualifications (including teaching and nursing diplomas) and 10 percent had post-secondary diplomas (Table 9.6). However, only 4 percent had university or post-graduate degrees. This suggests that the bulk of Zimbabwean migrants in Johannesburg are not highly-skilled professionals but rather tend to be white- and blue-collar workers and skilled artisans. Slightly over 15 percent of respondents reported that they had acquired additional qualifications and training in various technical and non-technical fields in South Africa which have helped them to be gainfully employed.

Zimbabweans are employed in a wide range of occupations in Johannesburg (Table 9.7). The security industry was prominent (employing 13 percent of the migrants), was is the hospitality industry (12 percent) and domestic work (11 percent). Others (between 5 and 10 percent of the migrants) were artisans and shop assistants. Five percent were hairdressers and 3 percent health professionals and drivers. Seven percent were working as teachers and only 3 percent were health professionals. The dispersal of Zimbabweans across the urban labour market is indicated by the fact that nearly 20 percent of the sample were employed in “other” professions.

Table 9.7: Migrant Employment in Johannesburg

Profession/Activity

No.

%

Security

617

13

Hospitality/Service Worker

585

12

Domestic Worker/Gardener

513

11

Hawking

442

10

Artisan

413

9

Teacher

324

7

Shop Assistant

279

6

Hairdressing

212

5

Driver

115

3

Health Professional

160

3

Multiple Professions

139

3

Other

855

18

N = 4,654

Almost a third of the migrants were unemployed when they left Zimbabwe. In Johannesburg, around 90 percent have jobs and the remaining 10 percent work in the informal sector. Given the high rates of unemployment in South Africa, it is remarkable that hardly any migrants from Zimbabwe are unemployed or are not engaged in some kind of productive activity. However, there does appear to be some de-skilling with migrants working in positions below their level of training and experience. In Zimbabwe, for example, 16 percent of the sample had worked as teachers. In Johannesburg, only 7 percent were working in that field.

The employment pattern of Zimbabweans in Johannesburg is broadly consistent with the findings of the national 2005 SAMP survey.12 However, there are some variations. The SAMP survey, for example, found farm and mine-workers – neither of which are in the Johannesburg sample for obvious reasons. There was also a higher proportion of health workers in the SAMP sample, suggesting that though Zimbabwean health workers in South Africa are not working in Johannesburg in great numbers, they are more numerous in other areas of the country. This would be consistent with the fact that Zimbabwean nurses find it easier to obtain employment in small towns and rural hospitals than in the big cities. The specificity of the Johannesburg labour market means that the proportion of Zimbabweans employed in the security industry and in domestic work is higher than in the SAMP sample.13

Despite high rates of employment, Zimbabwean migrants in Johannesburg are not particularly well-paid. Over 86 percent of the sample earned less than R4,000 a month (presumably those in skilled and professionals positions) (Table 9.8). Fifty-nine percent earned less than R2,000 a month and 21 percent earned less than R1,000 a month. In other words, being in Johannesburg does not guarantee a high or even a living wage. The cost of living is also higher there. Despite having to survive on meagre earnings, nearly 90 percent of the respondents remit money and/or groceries every month back home to support their families. Only 7 percent of the sample had no dependants in Zimbabwe (Table 9.9). Seventy-two percent had three or more. On average, each respondent remitted R290 per month in cash and/or in kind to their dependants (Table 9.10). This is very similar to the average R260 per month reported to SAMP in 2005.14 However, there is quite a range of ability to remit. Only 3 percent remit more than R1,000 per month and nearly 40 percent remit less than R200 per month.

Table 9.8: Migrant Earnings in Johannesburg

Monthly Gross Earnings

%

R1,000 or Less

21

R1,001 — R2,000

38

R2,001 — R4,000

27

Over R4,000

14

N = 4,479

Table 9.9: Number of Dependants Supported in Zimbabwe and South Africa

No.

Zimbabwe (%)

South Africa (%)

None

7

45

1-2

21

43

3-4

42

11

5+

30

1

N = 4,632

Table 9.10: Remittances to Zimbabwe from Johannesburg

Monthly Remittances

%

None

11

< R50

2

R50 - Rl00

7

Rl01 - R200

18

R201 - R500

40

R501 - R1,000

19

> R1,000

3

N = 4,618

Despite the existence of a sophisticated banking system in Johannesburg, migrants prefer to send remittances home through informal channels. Only 2 percent send funds through official banking channels. Access to financial services for migrants is very limited and 60 percent of respondents reported having no bank accounts. Over 40 percent of the migrants save through informal savings clubs. Half of the migrants are generally unable to save anything (Table 9.11).

Table 9.11: Migrant Savings

Monthly Value of Savings

% Saving

Zero

50

< R50

7

R50 - R100

11

R101 - R200

11

R201 - R500

14

R501 - R1,000

6

> R1,000

1

N = 4,618

CONCLUSION

Although Zimbabwean migrants may be increasingly encountered throughout South Africa, the majority of the movement over the last two decades has been to Johannesburg. As the 2001 Census demonstrated, the deracialization of inner city Johannesburg has made that area a magnet for migrants from throughout Africa, including Zimbabwe.15 An estimated 50 percent of the population of the inner-city is foreign-born.16 Johannesburg, as it always has, still represents opportunity for Zimbabweans – a wide variety of possible jobs, easy geographical access to employment, social and cultural heterogeneity, more limited exposure to the rampant xenophobia of South Africans and a sense of solidarity with fellow Zimbabweans.

The profile of Johannesburg’s Zimbabweans presented in this chapter shows that almost half are from Zimbabwe’s two largest cities: Harare and Bulawayo. As seasoned urban dwellers, they undoubtedly find it easier than their rural counterparts to negotiate the challenges of surviving in Johannesburg. At the same time, Johannesburg is a particularly dangerous place.17 Crime is rampant and the inner city is a favourite hunting-ground for the South African police to keep up their “crime-fighting” numbers by arresting irregular migrants en masse.18 Xenophobia is everywhere and Zimbabweans were caught up in the horrendous xenophobic attacks of May 2008.19 Life is made no easier by the fact that wages are low and most migrants have desperate dependants at home waiting for the monthly remittance package to arrive.

Most migrants remain in a kind of legal limbo state. Few can access refugee status in South Africa and only the most skilled can get work permits. Many are undocumented or have used a variety of ruses to acquire documentation. But they are in a larger limbo state as well, very much tied up with the future of Zimbabwe itself. There is considerable speculation about what a change in political regime and economic circumstances in Zimbabwe could mean. Would all those who have left the country return? And under what terms and conditions? The respondents were asked what they would do if “normality” returned to Zimbabwe. Two-thirds said that they would return home, 32 percent to set up a business and 17 percent (optimistically) for employment (Table 9.12). A third said that they would stay in South Africa, but only 6 percent permanently. Twenty-one percent said that they would stay in South Africa for the time being but establish a business in Zimbabwe. In other words, Johannesburg’s large Zimbabwean population are not immigrants who intend to settle, stay and integrate. Most Zimbabweans living in Johannesburg share a common sense of displacement and harbour strong hopes of returning home one day when the conditions that drove them into migration are removed. They are temporary migrants, biding their time.

Table 9.12: Probability of Return Migration

Response

No.

%

Go back and set up business

1,476

32

Stay in South Africa but establish a business in Zimbabwe

990

21

Go back and be gainfully employed

771

17

Go back to undertake social activities via NGOs

507

11

Stay in South Africa but go back to retire

338

7

Go back and settle

298

6

Stay in South Africa

260

6

N = 4,640

NOTES

1 Centre for Development and Enterprise, “Immigrants in Johannesburg: Estimating Numbers and Assessing Impacts” CDE In Depth No 9, Johannesburg, 2008.

2 Rutherford (in this volume).

3 Crush and Tevera (in this volume); D. Tevera and A. Chikanda, Migrant Remittances and Household Survival in Zimbabwe, SAMP Migration Policy Series No. 51, Cape Town, 2009.

4 L. Zinyama, “International Migration to and from Zimbabwe and the Influence of Political Changes on Population Movements, 1965-1987” International Migration Review 24(4) (1990): 748-67; Mlambo (in this volume).

5 W. Pendleton, J. Crush, E. Campbell, T. Green, H. Simelane, D. Tevera and F. de Vletter, Migration, Remittances and Development in Southern Africa, SAMP Migration Policy Series No. 44, Cape Town, 2006, p. 17.

6 B. Dodson, “Women on the Move: Cross-Border Migration to South Africa to Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe” in D. McDonald, ed., On Borders: Perspectives on International Migration in Southern Africa (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), pp. 71-85.

7 Pendleton et al, Migration, Remittances and Development.

8 J. Crush, B. Dodson, J. Gay and C. Leduka, “Gender, Migration and Remittances in Lesotho” SAMP Report for UN-INSTRAW, Santo Domingo, 2009.

9 Pendleton et al, Migration, Remittances and Development.

10 Child migration seems more common in the border areas; see International Organization for Migration, Migrants’ Needs and Vulnerabilities in the Limpopo Province, Republic of South Africa (Pretoria, 2009).

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid, p. 20.

13 N. Dinat and S. Peberdy, “Restless Worlds of Work, Health and Migration: Domestic Workers in Johannesburg” Development Southern Africa 24(1) (2007): 187-204.

14 Ibid, p. 22.

15 A. Morris, Bleakness and Light (Johannesburg: University of Witwatersrand Press, 2000).

16 CDE, “Immigrants in Johannesburg.”

17 J. Crush, “Mean Streets: Johannesburg as a Migrant Gateway” in M. Price and L. Benton-Short, eds., Migrants to the Metropolis: The Rise of Immigrant Gateway Cities (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2008), pp. 255-82.

18 L. Landau, “Discrimination and Development? Migration, Urbanisation, and Sustainable Livelihoods in South Africa’s Forbidden Cities” Development Southern Africa 24(1) (2007): 61-76.

19 The Perfect Storm: The Realities of Xenophobia in Contemporary South Africa, SAMP Migration Policy Series No. 50, Cape Town, 2008.

STAYING IN A CONTAINER

I am originally from Gwanda in Zimbabwe. I was born in 1974 and only did Form Two. I am married to a man from Masvingo. I came here in May 2008, and my husband came here last year. My two sisters also work on this farm. Before coming here, my husband had worked at a farm in Zimbabwe near the border for 8 years. When the money in Zimbabwe became useless, he crossed into South Africa last year. I came here mainly because my husband was not sending me any money whilst I was home. He was spending all the money that he earned on mahure [prostitutes.] When I came here, I found him staying with a hure. When I arrived here, the woman then ran away from this farm. My husband is no longer working here. He was fired in August because he was caught by the guards here in possession of wild pig meat. He went to Pretoria where he is a security guard.

When I came here, I jumped the border through a crossing point called Chivara, near a farm on the Zimbabwean side of the Limpopo River. I did not meet any maguma-guma [gangs who prey on migrants] when I jumped the border. I also did not have a work permit when I came here but now the murungu [white man] has given us corporate permits and we went to Musina to get our work permits. I now have my work permit. During that time, many people did not have work permits so the murungu allowed people to sleep in the bushes so that they could avoid arrest and deportation by the police or soldiers. The police or soldiers used to come here at night arresting people without work permits and proper identity books. The police and soldiers have now stopped coming here to arrest people. I do not know why they have stopped maybe they will come during the next orange-picking time.

I work carrying irrigation drip pipes and at times in the weeding and covering of cotton seeds during planting time. I now have seven months working here. I stay in a container. We call these containers garakara meaning “you do not have any option but to stay in the container.” The containers are meant for single workers, both men or women. There are eight containers being used as houses. Each container is divided into two rooms by a meshed wired in between. The containers came here in May, when there were many people picking oranges. There was no accommodation for the people and the majority of the orange pickers were sleeping in the bushes.

I earn R400 per month and I work six days per week. I pay R100 for staying in the container per month and this amount includes electricity but none of the containers has any electricity. Each person who stays in the containers or any house pays R100 as rent to the murungu regardless of whether you are sharing or not. The R100 is deducted from your pay every month. We buy our food from the Spaza (small shop) here which belongs to the murungu. In the container room we are six women. It is very crowded and very hot which is why the murungu made that small hole for each room to act as a window.

image

Chapter Ten
Zimbabweans on the Farms
of Northern South Africa

Blair Rutherford

In 2000, SAMP published a path-breaking empirical study of Zimbabwean migrant farmworkers in northern South Africa, a topic that was just starting to receive national and international attention.1 Based on fieldwork, interviews, policy reviews, and a questionnaire administered to former Zimbabwean farmworkers who were living in southern Zimbabwe, the study was the first of its kind on Zimbabwean farmworkers in the northern South African border zone. It provided important insights into their working and living conditions, and the wider institutional arrangements controlling Zimbabwean farm-workers in northern Limpopo Province. With hindsight, the research was carried out on the cusp of significant changes in the dynamics of Zimbabwean migration to South Africa.

The year 2000 marked the start of an ongoing political crisis viscerally and visibly affecting the country, resulting in what one civic group has aptly called a “meltdown.”2 The crisis entailed widespread state-supported and perpetrated violence aimed primarily at keeping the ruling ZANU-PF party in power, and a deepening economic crisis resulting in the dissolution of most formal sector jobs and many pre-existing livelihood strategies. A significant result was a sizeable increase in the number of Zimbabweans leaving their country for South Africa, including the border farms in the north.3

This chapter is based on ethnographic research carried out in 2004 and 2005, and a survey administered in 2005 on farms near Musina, the South African border town with Zimbabwe. A comparison with the 2000 SAMP study provides much-needed insight into what has changed, and what has not, in a specific geographic locus of Zimbabwean migration and employment in South Africa. The chapter also examines how changes in migration rates and policies have affected those working on these farms as well as their working and living conditions. The chapter provides temporal depth that is sometimes lost as media outlets and public commentators focus on “signs of a growing migration crisis in the Limpopo province.”4

The geographic location for the study is a 70 kilometre-wide belt north of the Soutpansberg range and south of the Limpopo River and between the Mogalakwena River to the west and the Pafuri to the east. Aside from small pieces of the former Lebowa, Gazankulu and Venda homelands that are found in this area, and the town of Musina, most of this land is comprised of commercial farms, parks, and mines. This semi-arid area (with annual rainfall averaging between 350 and 400 millimetres per year) has a relatively recent history of commercial agriculture, with European commercial farms starting to become more established only in the twentieth century through racialized state support to white farmers.5 Extensive cattle ranching and maize farming were the main farming activities carried out by white farmers in this area until a change towards more neo-liberal agricultural policies, starting in the 1980s, saw an increasing emphasis on export agriculture such as citrus and horticultural farming.6

The growing importance of citrus and horticultural farming led to a growing demand for casual labour, particularly during the harvesting season. Overall, the production processes on these farms require significantly more labour than cattle farming. When the SAMP study was carried out in 1998, many of the seasonal workers came either from Zimbabwe or from the former homeland areas to the south, leading to some conflicts and resentments on the part of the South Africans.7 However, as the study pointed out, Zimbabweans had worked on farms in the area since the middle of the twentieth century at least. Most came from the southern part of the country, close to the border with South Africa: “There is no direct correspondence between national territories, cultural boundaries and regional labour markets, and the Limpopo has always been merely a nuisance for generations of work-seekers in the region [of southern Zimbabwe] who have migrated southwards.”8

In the 1990s, this area of northern South Africa was designated a “special employment zone,” a quasi-legal designation under which the immigration authorities permitted South African farmers to recruit and employ Zimbabwean workers on their farms. But, there have been a number of changes since 2000 in both Zimbabwe and South Africa that have affected Zimbabweans working on these farms. The rising rate of migration, particularly irregular movement, has led to growing media attention, policy discussion, and debates in South Africa concerning Zimbabwean immigrants. Combined with other issues, it also resulted in the formal cessation of this “special employment zone” and a concomitant growing South African government interest in the border-zone of Limpopo Province. As a report in 2007 observed, “government officials in Limpopo have been substantially ramping up their response to informal movements [across the international border with Zimbabwe].”9 This chapter situates the transborder livelihood strategies of Zimbabwean farmworkers in northern Limpopo Province within the changing institutional arrangements controlling their presence and employment.

The chapter starts by examining the changing institutional arrangements in the 1990s and 2000s concerning the “special employment zone.” It then discusses the findings of research from 2004 and 2005 and compares them with the results of the SAMP study. The analysis focuses on some of the personal characteristics of the farmworkers, migration histories, working conditions, cross-border dependency relations, living conditions, and problems identified by the Zimbabwean farmworkers. This comparison leads to conclusions regarding the situation of Zimbabwean farmworkers in northern South Africa, in light of even more recent administrative changes that were only starting to take effect in late 2005.

ZONE OF EXCEPTION

In 2000, the “special employment zone” for Zimbabwean farmworkers north of the Soutpansberg and south of the Limpopo referred to a system whereby South African and Zimbabwean immigration officials established informal border posts in the gates of the South African border fences.10 These gates were placed in front of individual farms to enable access to the Limpopo River for irrigation. These “border posts” were only for Zimbabweans working as farmworkers in the designated zone. Movement was controlled by requiring them to have a BI-17 permit that linked them with a farmer who was a registered employer with their local agricultural union. The Zimbabwean officials collected a fee of $Z40 (which in September 1998 was worth R20) to issue a permit to leave Zimbabwe. After paying a R2 fee to the farmer on whose property the gate was located, the migrants could renew or receive the BI-17 permit from the South African officials if they had an offer of employment from a farmer or a recruiter working for one. Between 300 and 500 permits were processed during the two days a week that the informal border posts were open.

Such arrangements were found in a few other border zones for farmworkers from different countries such as Mozambique and Lesotho. These localized arrangements were not sanctioned by South African immigration law and were often criticized. As one study noted: “It is clearly unacceptable that farmers should continue to enjoy special status; enjoying rights of access that are denied to other South African employers. The present system is chaotic, confusing and subject to too much local variation and discretion. The need for a transparent and orderly system is paramount. This system should proceed from a central policy vision that is then filtered down to the local level.”11

Press reports as well as advocacy by various civic groups (including the land rights NGO Nkuzi Development Association) against the presence of Zimbabwean farmworkers, their abuse by farmers, and the “special status” of these northern borderland white farmers led to growing government interest and a variety of activities relating to the issue.12 In December 1999, for example, the Department of Home Affairs placed a moratorium on the employment of foreign labour in this area, though farmers continued to hire Zimbabweans. Some of the farmers’ unions established a labour recruiting office and agricultural training program in Musina to attract South African workers, though they claimed in 2005 that very few South Africans were recruited that way. The Department of Labour carried out a study in 2000 on the employment of Zimbabweans in this zone and the possibility of employing South Africans, with the aim of “phasing out” foreign and “phasing in” local labour.13 On the 94 farms surveyed (out of a total of 210 commercial farms in this zone), 10,111 of the 13,519 workers were Zimbabweans. Focus groups with South African residents led the authors to the conclusion that there were many South Africans willing to work on the farms and replace the “illegal Zimbabwean workers.”

Negotiations between farmers’ groups, governmental agencies, and Nkuzi also occurred. In October 2001, the Department of Home Affairs declared that it would evict all of the estimated 15,000 Zimbabwean farmworkers from this zone.14 Although some farmers’ groups in the area supported this move, others were against it and they obtained a High Court interdict to stall the eviction of the workers.15 The introduction of the 2002 Immigration Act and its 2004 amendment, provided a convenient “loophole” for farmers, who were allowed to apply for “corporate permits” to recruit Zimbabwean workers.16 Any farmer in South Africa, not just those in the “special employment zone,” could now apply for a corporate permit to recruit a specified number of Zimbabweans. To obtain these permits they have to secure an attestation from the Department of Labour that there are insufficient South Africans to meet their labour demand and that they are complying with labour laws.17 Officially, the so-called “special employment zone” north of the Soutpansberg no longer exists. Although this process was introduced with the 2004 amendment to the Immigration Act, the regulations governing the Act were only passed in the middle of 2005. A Home Affairs official noted in early August 2005 that 89 corporate permits were approved in Limpopo province covering about 11,000 Zimbabwean farmworkers. Before this time, the vast majority of the Zimbabwean farmworkers in this area were not working with any government permits at all.

Most of the Zimbabwean workers employed on the farms up to August 2005 had “farm identification cards” given to them by the farmer. Individual farmers issued these cards with information on them such as the name of the farm, the worker’s dates of employment at the farm, his/her photo and Zimbabwean national registration number, and sometimes a fingerprint. Holding such a card often enabled Zimbabwean farmworkers to avoid deportation if they encountered Defence Force soldiers or Home Affairs officials outside the farm or in a raid. Such accommodation was not made for Limpopo farmers outside the northern border zone. Thus the privileges of the “special employment zone” continued to linger for these borderland farmers, even after the official dissolution of this exemption.

ZIMBABWEAN FARMWORKERS: 1998 AND 2005

The farmworker surveys of 1998 and 2005 provide an unprecedented opportunity to examine how events in Zimbabwe have changed the character of migration to the farms of South Africa. The August 1998 SAMP survey was based on a non-probability sample of Zimbabweans living in Beitbridge District, Zimbabwe, within 50 kilometres north of the Limpopo River, who had worked at least once on a commercial farm in South Africa. The sample consisted of 202 people: 142 males and 60 females. The 2005 survey was administered to 143 Zimbabweans, 79 males and 64 females living and working on farms north of the Soutpansberg in Limpopo Province within 50 kilometres of the Limpopo River. Both were non-probability convenience samples.

The first significant difference in the two groups of farmworkers is in their age profile (Table 10.1). In 1998, the workforce was certainly more youthful than in 2005. The SAMP survey found that just over a third of the workers (37 percent) were 20 years of age or younger. The equivalent figure in 2005 was only 17 percent. In contrast, 37 percent of the workers were over 30 in 2005, compared to only 17 percent in 1998. The proportion of mature workers on the farms had also increased: from 5 percent to 10 percent over the age of 40 between 1998 and 2005.

Table 10.1: Age Distribution of Farmworkers

Age Range

1998 (%)

2005 (%)

15-17

10.9

6.9

18-20

26.2

10.5

21-30

43.1

46.2

31-40

12.4

25.2

41-50

1.0

6.3

51-60

2.5

4.9

>60

1.5

0

N=

202

143

There is also a marked difference in the educational level of the 1998 and 2005 groups. In the SAMP sample, 41 percent had received six years or less of schooling, 44 percent had between seven and 10 years of schooling and 15 percent had more than 10 years. In the 2005 survey, the equivalent figures were 25 percent, 67 percent and 8 percent. Twenty-four percent had passed their O levels and 1 percent their A levels (Table 10.2).18 Nearly 80 percent of those who had arrived in South Africa after 2000 had at least seven years of schooling (compared to only 53 percent of those who had arrived before 2000.) This clearly suggests that the educational status of those turning to farmwork increased after 2000, and emphasizes the dramatic rise in the emigration of educated Zimbabweans.19 A common complaint of Zimbabwean workers was that they were too educated and skilled for farm work. Interestingly, the proportion of workers with more than a secondary education had declined by 2005, perhaps because these migrants now find it easier to secure employment in Johannesburg than they once did.

Table 10.2: Educational Level of Farmworkers

Years of Schooling

1998 (%)

2005 (%)

N/A

 

1.4

0

13.4

9.1

1-6

27.7

15.4

7-10

43.6

65.7

>10

15.4

8.4

N=

202

143

The marital and dependant profile of Zimbabwean farmworkers changed significantly between 1998 and 2005 (Table 10.3). In 1998, 42 percent of the workers were married and 53 percent had dependants. In 2005, the proportion of married workers had risen to 56 percent and over 68 percent had dependants. In 1998, 40 percent were unmarried without dependants, a figure which had dropped to 24 percent in 2005. Patterns of farmworker migration from Zimbabwe to the farms had clearly changed with greater participation by married people and/or those with more dependants.

Table10.3: Marital and Provider Status of Farmworkers

Status

1998 (%)

2005 (%)

Married with Dependants

37.1

47.6

Married without Dependants

5.0

9.1

Unmarried with Dependants

15.8

19.5

Unmarried without Dependants

41.1

23.8

N=

202

143

In 1998, most farmworkers came from nearby rural communities on the Zimbabwean side of the order. In 2005, it was clear that they came from a wider range of localities within Zimbabwe. The historical and cultural ties between southern Zimbabwe and South Africa’s “Far North” mean that the border is not so much an impediment to international migration as a “nuisance.”20 Many workers, as well as the farmers, define these “ties” as largely ethnic, noting the interrelations between Venda communities in southern Zimbabwe and those in northern South Africa. The workers and farmers also said that, until recently, most of the Zimbabwean farmworkers north of the Soutpansberg were Venda. In the survey, respondents were asked to identify their ethnic background. The largest number called themselves Shona (35 percent), and then Karanga (28 percent), which in colonial ethnographic categorizations was grouped as a Shona “sub-ethnicity.”21 Nineteen percent called themselves Venda, and 18 percent Ndebele. There is not an isomorphic relationship between ethnicity and place in Zimbabwe (despite the attempts of colonial administrators and ethnic mobilizers to establish one). But farmworkers now come from as diverse locales as Mutare and the rural areas in eastern Zimbabwe, Gokwe rural areas in northwestern Zimbabwe, Harare and its townships in northern Zimbabwe, and Hwange in western Zimbabwe.

In 1998, the vast majority of respondents (67 percent) first came to the farm through another worker they knew on the farm. This was still important in 2005, with 33 percent of the workers finding work that way. However, the vast majority now had their first contact with the farm when they arrived asking for work. They then either talked to the foreman, manager or white farmer on the farm itself. The 2005 survey data supports the claim made by farmers and workers that there is little need for recruiters anymore as Zimbabweans come to the farm gate “every day” during picking season from May to August.

Another noticeable difference between the two groups was in the level and type of documentation they possessed (Table 10.4). In 1998, the proportion of migrants who entered South Africa without documentation was over 90 percent. Despite being in the special employment zone, this made them very vulnerable to arrest and deportation when they were off the farm. In 2005, the legal status of farmworkers had improved somewhat. The proportion without documentation had dropped to a third. Over 40 percent of the workers had government permits (probably via the corporate permit system) and 20 percent had permits issued by the farmer to reduce the possibility of arrest. At the time of the survey, a number of farmers were working through lawyers to acquire corporate permits for their Zimbabwean workers.

Table 10.4: Documents Used to Enter South Africa

Documentation

1998 (%)

2005 (%)

Passport

1.5

0.7

Permit

7.5

40.6

Farmer Document

-

20.2

No Documents

90.6

32.9

No Information

-

5.6

N=

202

143

In 1998, the majority of farmworkers were temporary (often seasonal) workers who did not live on the farms year-round. By 2005, this pattern seems to have given way to a more extensive “permanent” workforce. SAMP found in 1998 that 55 percent of the workers had spent a year or less with their current or past employer and only 18 percent had spent more than 3 years. In the 2005 sample, only 36 percent had worked for a year or less with their current employer while over 46 percent had worked for three or more years. They included 14 percent who had worked for 10 or more years with their current employer (Table 10.5). Males on average had worked for just over four years (49 months) and females for a few months more (51 months).

Table 10.5: Years Worked on Farm

Years

1998 (%)*

2005 (%)

0-1

55.5

25.9

1-2

11.4

9.8

2-3

13.9

11.9

3-5

9.4

14.7

5-10

5.5

17.5

10+

2.9

13.9

Unknown

1.5

6.3

N=

202

143

* For “current or previous employer.”

Finally, the 1998 SAMP study found that most respondents worked mainly with other Zimbabweans with a minority (16 percent) only having Zimbabwean coworkers. The 2005 survey did not ask this question but four farmers provided a breakdown of their workforce. Between 63 and 91 per cent of the total workforce was from Zimbabwe, including 80-100 percent of the seasonal workforce. Of the total workforce of 1,330 farmworkers on the farms, 82 percent were from Zimbabwe. The survey also suggested that 60-70 percent of the total workforce were women, both permanent and seasonal. The SAMP survey had found equal numbers of men and women, suggesting a growing “feminization” of the farm workforce after 2000. As in the earlier SAMP survey, over a quarter (27 percent) of the respondents had worked elsewhere in South Africa, including on at least one other farm in the “special employment zone” in northern South Africa.

Table 10.6: Previous Job in Zimbabwe

 

%

Farmworker

11.2

Domestic worker

11.2

General labourer

8.4

Supermarket/Retail

5.6

Driver

4.2

Herding cattle

4.2

Security

3.5

Miner/Gold panning

3.5

Builder

2.1

Teacher

2.1

Office worker

1.4

Other

4.9

None

37.7

N = 143

In 2005, over 60 percent of the Zimbabwean farmworkers interviewed had prior employment experience in their home country. A number talked about once having had “decent” jobs in Zimbabwe. They were employed in a wide variety of occupations, including office work, retail, domestic work, and teaching (Table 10.6). Eleven percent had prior experience on farms in Zimbabwe and had possibly been displaced by the white farm seizures that began in 1999. The survey found that most had come to South Africa to work on the farms because they had lost their jobs or had been chased away from work because of their politics and could not find other remunerative employment in the country.

Access to rural-based resources has long been an important source of livelihoods for the majority of Zimbabweans, including those living in cities.22 The vast majority of the 2005 respondents (79 percent) had access to land and a rural home in Zimbabwe, with 43 percent being the main owner of the rural home and the remainder having access through a relative. Of the land itself, 27 percent of those with a rural home had received it on a resettlement scheme (although it is unclear if they received land before or after 2000). A more pertinent figure is that 66 percent of those with access to rural land did not harvest anything in the 2004-5 agricultural season due to drought, lack of inputs, or a combination of factors.

WORKING IN SOUTH AFRICA

The Zimbabwean farmworkers told many harrowing tales of crossing the Limpopo River. They tried to avoid those on the Zimbabwean side of the border called maguma-guma who prey on those who are border-crossing (including such violent acts such as theft, rape and assault), while dodging wild animals, army patrols and police roadblocks on the South African side.23 Many crossed over by foot, often travelling with friends or relatives for, as one worker put it, “the larger the crowd, the less likely the maguma-guma will attack you as you seek a way across the river.”

One 27-year-old man had worked as a “temporary worker” since finishing his O Levels in 1998 at the Post and Telecommunications Corporation of Zimbabwe, the parastatal that runs the Zimbabwean postal services (amongst other things), in Zvishavane town in south-central Zimbabwe. In early 2005, he lost his job, and in June of that year he and some friends, and a young brother who had been working on a South African farm near “Pietersberg” (Polokwane), jumped the border together. The six of them were split up when they were chased and attacked by nine maguma-guma on the Zimbabwean side in the middle of the night as they were nearing the border. After wandering for a few days, he found a job on a farm in the border zone.

The 2005 survey clearly showed that Zimbabwean farmworkers undertake a wide range of occupations on the farms, acting not only as seasonal harvesters and pack-shed workers (who sort the citrus into different grades) but working in middle-level management positions as well (Table 10.7). In 1998, most of the jobs performed by the workers did not require too much specialized training or education; 87 percent of the females and 68 percent of the males carried out harvesting, or other horticultural or field work such as planting or pruning. Only 2 percent of the males were foremen or supervisors and another 2 percent were drivers. In 2005, only 49 percent of the females and 47 percent of the males carried out harvesting or other field jobs. The much lower percentage of females doing harvesting jobs in 2005 is probably a result of the presence of citrus farms in the later survey. The 1998 survey found that 32 percent of women and 22 percent of men were harvesting tomatoes, and 15 percent of females and 11 percent of males were harvesting other vegetable and fruit crops. Farmers relied less on males in picking “delicate crops.” In the 2005 survey, there was no tomato harvesting and 18 percent of females and 17 percent of males harvested oranges, and 8 percent of females and 1 percent of males harvested other crops. Farmers had no concerns about males harvesting citrus fruit.

In 1997, with the passage of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act in South Africa, farmworkers came under standard labour legislation for the first time. Statutory minimum wages for farmworkers were not introduced until late 2002 when the minimum wage for farmworkers in rural or peri-urban locales was set at R650 a month. In 2005-6, the minimum wage for farmworkers in Limpopo province was R785.79 per month. The average pay for workers in the 2005 survey was just under R571 per month. Almost 35 percent received less than R400 per month (Table 10.8). More than half were earning less than the minimum wage. As in 1998, foremen and supervisors did not necessarily make that much more than ordinary labourers. One earned R650 per month, two earned R700 and another two earned R800. The seven workers who earned R900 or more included five drivers (three of whom made R1,200 per month, the highest recorded monthly salary), one mechanic, and one domestic worker.

Table 10.7: Farm Jobs by Sex

Task/Title

Female

Male

1998 (%)

2005 (%)

1998 (%)

2005 (%)

Harvesting

50

26

14

34

Oranges

3

18

13

22

Tomatoes

32

0

0

3

Other crops

15

8

1

11

Other horticultural work

32

12

2

3

Field work/General labour

5

11

21

27

Irrigation

0

5

2

3

Animal husbandry

0

0

1

1

Driving

0

6

10

13

Security/Crop guard

0

1

6

8

Domestic work

3

17

0

0

Other

3

9

5

6

Unknown

2

12

12

15

N =

60

65

142

78

Table 10.8: Monthly Wages

Rand

No.

%

R200

9

6.3

R201-400

39

27.3

R401-600

23

16.1

R601-800

46

32.1

R801-1,000

4

2.8

>R1,000

3

2.1

Unknown

19

13.3

N =

143

100

Living conditions varied tremendously for Zimbabwean (and other) farmworkers from farm to farm and even between different farmworkers on the same farm. Some farms had brick houses with metal roofs that housed two families, or brick hostels, some of which even had electricity, for all of their workers, both permanent and seasonal. Other farmers reserved brick houses for permanent workers but placed seasonal workers in run-down pole and dagga huts, dilapidated brick houses, or whatever the workers could make on their own. And then there were farms on which the majority of workers, including permanent ones, had to make their own houses and thus most lived in pole and dagga houses.

The survey found that 6 percent of the workers lived in brick rooms with electricity, 2 percent in makeshift shelters, 52 percent in brick rooms without electricity and 31 percent in pole and dagga huts. Slightly more than a third of the workers lived in a room by themselves. The rest shared accommodation, with 26 percent living with another worker and 18 percent living with 3 or more other workers. Almost 40 percent of the surveyed workers complained about the toilet conditions on the farms although fewer (12 percent) complained about the availability and condition of drinking water.

On the farms visited in this border zone, there was no visible segregation of Zimbabwean from South African workers. However, workers were segregated on farms near the Botswana border and on farms in other parts of Limpopo province. Zimbabwean workers were explicitly viewed as “illegal” and as a potential targets of raids. In response, farmers had their Zimbabweans living away from the main farm compound, often hidden from view. On one farm next to the Botswana border, dozens of Zimbabweans were living in the bushes under plastic sheets. Their employer warned them to flee whenever unknown vehicles approached them, as it could be the authorities coming to round them up and deport them (the workers said the raids occurred about three times per week). These farmworkers said that they wanted to find jobs in the Soutpansberg area where they knew that they would be less vulnerable to deportation.

SAMP reported that Zimbabwean farmworkers in the late 1990s faced a range of difficulties at work. Some complained of poor treatment at the hands of farmers – of threats, insults, or beatings. A number also said that they had problems with the South African police arresting and deporting them if they did not have the relevant documents. Many of these reported deportations occurred just before payday. Farmers allegedly worked with the authorities to deport workers when they no longer needed them and before they paid them.24 The respondents also complained about poor working conditions, sexual abuse, anti-Zimbabwean prejudice, and theft in the farm compound and when crossing back into Zimbabwe. Many of these complaints were repeated during the 2005 research. Fewer workers said they were treated well by farmers than in 1998 – 35 percent compared to 53 percent.25 Slightly less said they were badly treated – 34 percent compared to 40 percent. Fewer noted problems with harassment by police and lack of legal rights.

Even if they had a farmer-issued ID and were a permanent worker, many Zimbabweans mentioned their concern and anxiety about being harassed or deported by South African authorities. New or seasonal workers were most anxious about this issue as they were more vulnerable to being deported during farm raids or if stopped at road blocks. A number also complained about abuse by foremen (verbal and occasionally physical), and the demands made on Zimbabweans seeking work. On a few farms that had South African foremen but predominantly Zimbabwean workers, the foremen demanded bribes from migrants looking for work. The demands from male workers were monetary and from female workers sexual. A few women also noted the risk of rape on the compounds and by maguma-guma. Almost all workers talked about the verbal abuse they received from South Africans on the farms and in the towns. They noted that South Africans often had better jobs on the farms and looked down upon the Zimbabweans.

In early July 2005, the ex-Postal and Telecommunications Corporation of Zimbabwe employee referred to earlier, was working as a crop guard. However, he worked every day of the month from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. with no lunch or rest breaks. At his first payday he and three other Zimbabwean crop guards asked the farmer why they did not receive more than the minimum wage as they had worked for 198 hours. In early 2005, crop guards had been receiving R1,200 per month but as more Zimbabweans were crossing the border, the farmer lowered the wages. When they demanded more money, the farmer declared that for showing “such cheek” they would be fired after another week of work. The farmer rescinded his decision a week later, but they still did not receive higher wages.

The worker lived in an old three-room house with seven other Zimbabweans – it used to be a junior manager’s house but it was quite dilapidated by 2005. He complained about the lack of toilets and the fact that the water tank was open, which he and others associated with the constant diarrhoea that workers suffered. The worker was nervous as he had promised his wife that he would return in September, bringing back enough money to help them and their two children to survive in Zvishivane’s township. He also hoped to accumulate some money to buy a plough and fertilizer for a rural home in Mberengwa in eastern Zimbabwe. But now, he sighed, his “programme” seemed in disarray.

On the same farm, a 28-year-old woman began working as a seasonal worker in the pack-shed in 2003. She had completed her Form 4 in 1997 and worked as a storekeeper in the rural areas of Mberengwa before then, but the money she earned was too little to look after her young daughter and her mother (her husband had passed away). She found work on the farm through her two brothers who were already working there. She received the minimum wage. At the end of the month she would send some of the money back to her mother through a friend who travelled frequently to Mberengwa. Once the pack-shed closed down after three or four months, she would return to Zimbabwe through the border post, paying a fine for jumping the border on the way to South Africa. She said that this was preferable to jumping the border which she does when coming into South Africa; one time, she cautiously noted, she had been attacked and “violated” by maguma-guma when crossing the border. In Zimbabwe, she farms with her mother at their small rural plot, though the previous season they had harvested nothing because of drought.

On another farm, a 25-year-old worker came to South Africa in 2002. He had trained as a bricklayer in Bulawayo but failed to find work. His brother had been working on a farm in the “special employment zone” since 1998 and had married a South African woman and managed to get South African identification. His brother told him about bricklaying work on a neighbouring farm and he did that work until 2004. Then he became a supervisor in the pack-shed. He received R635 per month, which he said was much higher than the R200-300 the vast majority of Zimbabwean workers received on this farm. Every three or four months he returned to the rural areas near Gwanda, bringing money to his parents. He often travelled back and forth through one of the gates in the fence, making arrangements with some of the soldiers to open and close the gate for a fee. His real passion is music, and he invested in musical instruments and put together a gospel group with other Zimbabwean workers. His plan was to get a recording contract and work in Zimbabwe once “things improve there.”

CROSS-BORDER DEPENDENCIES

The majority of farmworkers return to Zimbabwe on a regular basis. Eighty-six percent of those who responded to the question had been home in the previous year. The majority jumped the border to return, but 35 percent went back through a border post. Some did so because they had permits; others paid a fine for not leaving Zimbabwe through legal means. Those carrying goods home alleged that they bribe the Zimbabwean authorities, as it is safer to bring their goods back through a border post than risk meeting magumaguma on the Zimbabwean side and having their goods and money stolen.

When they return to Zimbabwe, the workers bring back a wide variety of items, including goods that were once commonly found in many Zimbabwean households such as maize meal, soap, sugar and cooking oil. All of these items were either impossible to find in Zimbabwe due to the economic meltdown or prices were too prohibitive for the vast majority of people. Those with some money, particularly permanent workers, would bring back clothes, electronic equipment, bicycles, household items, automobile parts, and so forth. They would also bring South African rands to convert into Zimbabwean dollars at the black-market rate to give to dependants, buy food and clothes and pay school fees.

Of the 104 respondents who had returned to Zimbabwe within the previous year, just over 50 percent had brought home food and a similar number brought rands. Over 20 percent had brought clothes and 10 percent household items, including appliances like paraffin stoves. Those who had taken money back, took just under R490 on average. Some of the money went to relatives while some was used to buy cattle or other livestock or to build a rural home. However, some had no money or goods to bring back, especially if they were deported or because the money they earned was being used mainly to cover their living expenses in South Africa.

Zimbabwean farmworkers also remit to relatives without returning themselves. Nearly 60 percent of the respondents regularly send money or food back to dependants. The majority send it with others while a few send items by mail. This usually requires getting someone to take the money to Beitbridge, converting it to Zimbabwean dollars on the black market and then sending a postal order to relatives. Others used relatives or neighbours who come to visit or who are looking for work on the farms and then return to their home area. Still others used informal courier services through the vehicular traffic going back and forth across the border.

The number of people in Zimbabwe being supported by farmworkers’ remittances has climbed in recent years. In 1998, for example, SAMP found that its 202 respondents supported 329 other people in Zimbabwe (a dependency factor of 1.6 people per respondent.) By 2005, the number of dependants reliant on farm incomes had increased considerably. There was a considerable range in the number of dependants supported but, in total, the 143 respondents supported 537 other people in Zimbabwe (dependency factor of 3.8, more than double the dependency ratio of 1998) (Table 10.9). The large increase corroborates what Zimbabwean farmworkers said about the need to find any work in South Africa to acquire the money and resources to send back to family members and kin in Zimbabwe who often desperately needed basic goods or the currency to buy them.

Table 10.9: Number of People Supported in Zimbabwe

No. of Dependants

No.

%

0

14

9.8

1

6

4.2

2

20

14.0

3

21

14.7

4

14

9.8

5

18