ZIMBABWE is among top five countries that registered the highest number of citizens granted work visas to the United Kingdom (UK) in the past two years, latest statistics by the UK’s Office of National Statistics show.
Zimbabwe has over the past years recorded a mass exodus of skilled workers, who have opted for menial foreign jobs owing to poor remuneration back home.
Unsustainable unemployment levels have also seen the country’s younger generation migrating to the UK, among other European countries, in search of jobs.
The country has lost thousands of teachers and health professionals, including at least 3 000 nurses to the UK in the past two years.
A recent announcement by the UK government on the eligibility of Zimbabwean teachers in that country also sparked a rise in skills flight.
It has since been established that agencies — often run by Zimbabweans in the UK and unregulated — are exploiting desperate job seekers.
In addition, the Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) is highly coveted, which has led to it being exploited by middlemen.
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 the southern African country continues to stiffen.
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.
“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,” he said.
“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 said: “It is a public secret that there has been a massive exodus of Zimbabweans to greener pastures owing to push factors such as bad economy and poor working conditions. Now the dream of most Zimbabwean professionals is to leave the country.
“Such departures are celebrated by families as life-time achievements. This is how people are reacting to the so-called turnaround policies. Needless to say, therefore, that the proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
Zimbabwe is one of the 10 top emigrating countries in sub-Saharan Africa that include Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Eritrea, Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the World Bank.
Before independence in 1980, immigrants came to Zimbabwe from Zambia, Malawi, Asia and Europe attracted by economic prospects in agriculture and mining.
At independence, Zimbabwe became the fourth most industrialised country in Africa south of the Sahara, with a middle-income status supported by a diversified economy.