Zimbabweans continue to leave the south African nation for the United Kingdom (UK) in search of greener pastures, the latest statistics by the UK’s Office of National Statistics show.
Zimbabwe is among the top five countries that registered the highest number of citizens granted work visas to the United Kingdom (UK) in the past two years.
The country has lost thousands of teachers and health professionals, including at least 3 000 nurses to the UK in the past two years.
Between 2019 and September 2022, the number of Zimbabweans granted work visas to work in the UK went up 1 576% from 499 to 8 363 applicants as the economic situation in Zimbabwe continues to toughen.
Statistics by the British government show that most visas for Zimbabweans are for work in the skilled worker, health and care worker category.
Zimbabwe tops again in the category of the top five nationalities with dependants who were granted worker visas between 2019 and 2022.
In 2019, 509 citizens were granted visas as dependants of work visa holders, a figure which shot up by 1 962% to 10 434 in 2022.
The latest statistics by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency show that Zimbabwe recorded the highest outflow of citizens in search of greener pastures in 2021 compared to the previous years.
The 2022 population census results show that the UK is a major preferred destination of job seekers overseas, with 23 166 Zimbabwe having relocated to the UK during the census period.
Nigeria is another African country in the top five list of countries with citizens who have been granted work visas, with a 399% increase from 1 993 emigrants in 2019 to 9 944 in September 2022.
Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said every citizen had the right to migrate, but no African citizen would leave their countries when economies are performing well. He told NewsDay:
Take a look at Botswana, Kenya and other African countries, you don’t see their people leaving their countries for greener pastures. The reason Zimbabweans are leaving their motherland is their professions cannot sustain them.
The menial jobs they do in England pay more than they earn in their motherland. Claims that the economy is performing well are political rhetoric because thousands of people are going out of the country because they can’t survive in this dysfunctional economy.
Another analyst, Vivid Gwede, agreed with Ruhanya that a significant number of Zimbabweans had left their country in search of better opportunities due to push factors such as a weak economy and unfavourable working conditions.
According to the World Bank, Zimbabwe is one of the top ten emigration nations from sub-Saharan Africa, along with Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Eritrea, Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Prior to gaining independence in 1980, Zimbabwe attracted immigrants from Zambia, Malawi, Asia, and Europe attracted by the country’s agricultural and mineral industries.
This comes as president Emmerson Mnangagwa has said Zimbabwe is now ready to claim back its human resources scattered all over the world and to take full responsibility for its citizens. He said:
We thank all those countries which gave them shelter and more skills while we sorted out our affairs for recovery and growth. South Africa ranks foremost among those countries. With our economy now on an irreversible growth trajectory, the time has now come for our nation to claim back its own and to assume full responsibility for its citizens who may wish or need to come back home.
He said Zimbabweans in the diaspora now have “opportunities to contribute here at home.”