Why do some Zimbabweans migrate to the UK?

Dr Masimba Mavaza

Some Zimbabweans have been leaving their homes to fly to the United Kingdom. There is nothing peculiar about this.

The whole world is on the move, thereby reducing the world to a global village. People migrate for many reasons, ranging from security, demography and human rights to poverty and climate change.

The total number of non-European Union citizens residing within the EU as of 1 January 2021 was 23.7 million, according to Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office.

This represents 5.3% of the EU population. In most EU countries, the majority of non-nationals were from outside the EU.

We must realise that migration is the movement of people from one place to another, to settle in a new location.

Migration can be voluntary or involuntary and can occur for a variety of reasons, including economic, environmental and social issues.

Many people from less developed countries embark on the dangerous journey to  Europe, in hopes of a better life.

In parts of Africa, particularly North Africa (Morocco, Mauritania, and Libya), trafficking immigrants to Europe has become more lucrative than drug trafficking as commented by Migration Watch.

Economic, safety and family labels indicate those who cited each category as a motivator for moving.

While many people think that people migrate because of poverty, the truth is far from this belief.

Duncan Nyashanu, an immigration law expert in Zimbabwe said: “Many Zimbabweans who went to England actually had good paying jobs which they left for greener pastures. Going for greener pastures means you have been on some sort of pastures they are leaving for greener pastures.

“A recent survey carried out, when asked to indicate reasons for migrating (and there are be multiple reasons), 74 percent of survey respondents cite economic factors, such as searching for jobs or engaging in seasonal work-related migration.”

There are push and pull factors for migration. Push factors are the reasons people leave a country for. Pull factors are the reason they move to a particular country for. There are three major push and pull factors.

Social and political factors

A growing or shrinking, aging or youthful population has an impact on economic growth and employment opportunities in the countries of origin or migration policies in the destination countries.

Demographic and economic migration is related to poor labour standards, high unemployment and the overall health of a country’s’ economy.

Pull factors include higher wages, better employment opportunities, a higher standard of living and educational opportunities.

If economic conditions are not favourable and appear to be at risk of declining further, a greater number of people will probably migrate to countries with a better outlook.

According to the UN International Labour Organisation, migrant workers — defined as people who migrate with a view to being employed — stood at roughly 169 million worldwide in 2019 and represented more than two thirds of international migrants.

More than two-thirds of all migrant workers were concentrated in high-income countries.

Zimbabweans have fallen in this net.

While the United Kingdom provides a semblance of a higher salary, their system is such that all the money goes to the bills.

At the end of the day, you have a fat pay which thins out within few hours of being deposited in your account.

If you decide to take more jobs you will be taxed in a punitive way. So, with a lot of jobs the monies are discouraging.

However, while people tend to report only what they perceive to be influencing their decision (“proximate causes”), other “root” causes could still be at play.

For example, a migrant may indicate that he chose to migrate to get a better job, but following family could be part of the reason.

The researchers found that Zimbabwean women are more likely to migrate than men.

Men will only follow without a plan and they become more frustrated and cause a lot of stress to their families.

Eighty five percent of Zimbabwean migrants are women. Female migrants make up a larger share of those who are motivated to migrate by family reasons.

Developing a coherent and comprehensive approach to Zimbabwean migration depends on a clear understanding of what cross-border movement looks like in Zimbabwe and mostly to South Africa.

We need to understand what factors are driving people’s migration choices, and how the movement of people is or isn’t responsive to policy changes in Europe.

When the environment affects lives or living conditions, most people are obliged to leave their homes, either temporarily or permanently, and move either within their country or abroad.

The European Union has been encouraging legal migration to address labour shortages, fill skill gaps and boost economic growth.

These include:

  • The EU Blue Card: a work and residency permit that allows non-EU citizens to work and live in an EU country, provided they have a degree or equivalent qualification and a job offer that meets a minimum salary threshold.
  • The Single Permit: a combined work and residency permit, issued for up to two years by an EU country.
  • EU long-term resident status: allows people from outside the EU to stay, work and move freely in the EU for an indefinite period.

While the EU has its own rules on migration, the United Kingdom has introduced a dozen visas which allow working age to come and settle in the UK.

Travelling to the UK is not fair comment  on the country one is coming from. It is human nature to see green away from where you are, while the other person sees greener pastures in the land you are coming from.

As a result, Zimbabwe still receives thousands of foreigners every day and deports thousands. While some move to foreign lands, our empty spaces are filled by those who see greener pastures in our country.

We are blind to our surroundings and very much alive to other areas.

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