Historically, Zimbabweans started to go outside the country in the 60s, mainly for study or to gain religious knowledge. Their destinations included mainly the US and Britain.
Many began to leave the country from the 80s, 90s and 2000s.
Most of the recent relocation has been based on economic reasons, as many sought for work opportunities in high performing economies of the west and across the border in South Africa. There has also been many who leave the country for educational purposes all over the world.
When people seek work opportunities outside their home country they find it easy to settle near where they work and thus they become residents of that particular country for some time depending on their permit requirements.
The above is what the Zim Abroad magazine will explore and bring to you in various exciting forms including print, online and mobile platforms.
Content of the magazine will mainly be based on biographies and profiles, as well as news since many people whether back at home or in far flung corners of the world would be keen to know.
The magazine derives its term from “Zimbabwean diaspora” a reference to nationals from Zimbabwe who left after independence beginning in 1980 to live in other countries in southern Africa, Africa or overseas.
It is usually reported that statistics on accurate figures of Zimbabweans in the diaspora are hard to come by due to several factors, including that many leave the country without proper documentation. Nevertheless, this won’t be the focus of the magazine as we would like to stay away from “politics” and remain a truly family or business magazine highlighting fellow countrymen and their achievements in their newly adopted homes.
Of the nations with the highest numbers of Zimbabwean immigrants South Africa is reported to have the highest, mainly for its proximity to Zimbabwe as well as its economic power in Africa that enables it to offer a vast number of employment opportunities.
The UK, US, Australia and Canada follow in that order according to official information and this order is what the magazine will like follow in terms of sourcing content or focus. However, there will be unique information on Zimbabweans doing wonders elsewhere in far corners of the world that may not be popular for now like China, Bangladesh, Hawai, Trinidad and Tobago, Djibouti, Mauritania, Venezuela, and Pakistan and so on.
One key trend of the Zimbabwean diaspora is that while immigrants leave with one country destination in mind, say the UK or South Africa, sometimes they later move on to settle in another country. Under such situations, a sizable number continue to move to Australia as well as New Zealand for various reasons.
According to Wikipedia, many people have since the pre-independence era been going to work in South Africa, usually over a short period of time. In essence, provisional employment relocation to South Africa has always marked the relationship of the two countries before and after independence.
In the 70s many young and middle aged men left Zimbabwe to work in the mines during a campaign dubbed “Wenela” or “Wenera”.
Reports says that a 2002 survey by the Southern African Migration Project show that almost 25% of adult Zimbabweans’ parents or grandparents had worked in South Africa at some point in their lives. However, permanent emigration is a relatively new phenomenon.
Estimates put the number of Zimbabweans outside the country into millions, who were born in their countries of residence or are children of immigrants.
In 2008 up to 5 million Zimbabweans were living in neighboring South Africa.
The UK is thought to have the highest numbers after South Africa, with over 200, 000 nationals. The USA has about 50, 000; Australia has in excess of 30, 000 Zimbabweans while Botswana’s numbers were over 100, 000 and Canada’s were estimated at around 50, 000.
While South Africa, Botswana, The UK, USA, Canada and Australia has formed the major destinations for Zimbabweans, countries like New Zealand, Namibia, and some Asian countries are increasingly becoming hosts.
Like elsewhere, immigrant Zimbabweans are playing a major role, by contributing to the development of their home country’s economy in a way never before imagined? Information says that the year 2015 alone saw them sending home in excess of US$1 billion in the past 17 months.
The fact that the Zimbabwean government recently unveiled the Diaspora Policy that will set mechanisms and an institutional framework to facilitate the reception of cash from the millions outside the borders bears testimony to the major role being played by Zimbabweans abroad in the development of their home country.
Going to work abroad for many Zimbabweans has also come at a price as the home country has reportedly “suffered from severe brain drain”. However, host countries continue to reap rewards as a result of educated Zimbabweans on their doorsteps.
Many are enjoying top level positions in the corporate world from South Africa to the UK. You shall be reading all about them in line with objectives of this magazine.
Looking at the nature of how a reasonable number of Zimbabweans leave the country, it may be extremely difficult to accurately estimate the number of immigrants forever.
The bottom line is however that the country will keep benefiting from remittances, whether they are from documented or undocumented immigrants.
But there is need to explore ways to properly document everyone, for administrative purposes both in Zimbabwe and in the host countries.
Already efforts to document Zimbabweans have paid off in South Africa where an estimated 250, 000 have received work, study or business permits under the Zimbabwe Dispensation Programme.
Other countries around Africa and overseas have smaller numbers of Zimbabwean communities such as Tanzania and Sudan where teachers have found jobs at a bilateral arrangement with the Zimbabwean government.
Get ready to be informed, educated or entertained by Zim Abroad magazine as Zimbabwean immigrants continue to make it big abroad like Dereck Chisora (boxer, UK), Sindiso Dabengwa (former MTN CEO, South Africa) and Danai Gurira (actor, USA).