Contextual background to the rapid increase in migration from Zimbabwe since 1990
This paper provides a contextual background to and causes of recent emigration from Zimbabwe. With an estimated quarter of the population currently living outside Zimbabwe, migration from the country is unprecedented. The country is now ranked as one of the top ten migrant-sending countries in sub-Saharan Africa that include Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Eritrea, Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Periods of migration are divided into sections, beginning with the war of liberation (1960-1979) to 1990; 1991 to 1997 and 1998 and beyond. Migration was caused by inter-related factors ranging from political and economic instability, poverty, low returns to labour, unemployment, increased informalisation of the economy, fluctuation in prices of basic commodities and their erratic supply. Migrants from Zimbabwe are a diverse combination of people of all ages that include professionals, semi-skilled and unskilled workers, documented and undocumented migrants dispersed in countries in the region, predominantly South Africa and Botswana, and far-flung countries like the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Whereas in the past male migration was dominant, by 2000 women have migrated in almost equal numbers with men.
Keywords: Zimbabwe, migration, causes, period, unemployment, political, economic and social instability