HARARE, April 24 — At a time when hundreds of migrants, including Zimbabweans, are fleeing xenophobic violence in South Africa, a report by a Zimbabwean government body has revealed that South Africans constitute the largest number of all migrants living and working in Zimbabwe.
Releasing its 2014 Labour Force and Child Labour Survey (LFCLS) report results this week, the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) said among the 207.130 migrants in Zimbabwe, 45 per cent (93,208) were South Africans.
Zimstat is the main source of official statistics in Zimbabwe and is mandated by the government to play a co-ordination and supervisory role within Zimbabwe’s national statistical system. It also has the authority to certify and designate any statistics produced in the country as official.
More than 400 Zimbabwe migrants have so far been repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence against foreign nationals there in recent weeks. The returning Zimbabweans are among more than 2,000 foreign nationals reported to have been staying in the Phoenix camp in Durban.
“The largest numbers of migrants are from neighbouring countries. South Africa contributed 45 per cent of migrants, followed by Mozambique and Malawi with about 22 per cent and 15 per cent respectively,” the report says.
Other migrants are from Botswana (3.9 pct), Zambia (7.8 pct), other African countries (2.8 pct), Britain (0.6 pct), other European countries (0.7 pct), American countries (0.2 pct) and Asian (0.2 pct), while the remaining 1.4 per cent cannot be accounted for.
The report adds that “out of all migrants in Zimbabwe, 82 per cent were unskilled, 7.0 per cent semi-skilled while the remaining 6.0 per cent were professionals”. The majority of the migrants were employed in the agricultural, forestry and fishery sectors.
At least seven people have been killed in South Africa and many left homeless since the attacks on foreigners started about three weeks ago. More than 300 people have also been arrested and the South African government has deployed the army to xenophobic hotspots in Johannesburg and Durban.
On Wednesday, Zimbabwe church umbrella body Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) urged Zimbabwe’s government to take urgent political and economic measures to avoid an influx of its citizens to South Africa, where they face humiliation.
More than one million Zimbabweans live in South Africa, making them the biggest community of foreign nationals in that country.
Hundreds of Malawians and Mozambicans have also returned home from South Africa after the attacks.