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New Study Links Zimbabwean Exiles to Development

A new report says Zimbabweans living outside the country make a substantial contribution to the well being of their families back home. It also shows that many skilled exiles would be willing to return home to help develop their country if conditions allowed. The study, entitled “The Development Potential of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora,” was released by the International Organization for Migration. It was written by Alice Bloch, a lecturer at City University in London.

Ms. Bloch told English to Africa reporter William Eagle there are thought to be tens of thousands of Zimbabwean exiles in Britain, and hundreds of thousands in South Africa. She says substantial number of those – especially in the Britain – are skilled professionals. They, as well as unskilled migrants from Zimbabwe, provide an important source of financial support for their families back home. In South Africa, Ms. Bloch says Zimbabwean women are increasingly joining men as cross-border traders in search of work.

The survey showed that about a quarter of those in the Zimbabwean Diaspora left because of political repression, while others were seeking better economic opportunities. Ms. Bloch says the study also had significant findings for government development agencies and community activists: she said the participants suggested that it would be easier to find work if they enjoyed dual citizenship. Also, she says it would be helpful if the British government would allow asylum seekers to work while their applications are pending.

Today, it is illegal for asylum seekers to work in Britain, although Ms. Bloch notes that some Zimbabwean professionals could be used to fill shortages in some professions in the Britain, such as teaching. She says by working, asylum seekers could also maintain or improve their skills so they will be up to date if they decide to return to Zimbabwe.