Zimstat migration figures ‘flawed’, meant to ‘devalue’ calls for diaspora vote
Observers have dismissed the latest Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) immigration figures, citing that they were “flawed” and meant to devalue the political significance of calls for a diaspora vote ahead of elections in 2023.
In the report published yesterday (Tuesday) Zimstat estimated a Zimbabwean diaspora of 908,913 people, with 85% of the number being those living in South Africa
The report further claimed that there are 23 166 Zimbabweans living in the UK. This was, however, contrary to the 2019 UK’s Office for National Statistics survey that estimated 128,000 people in the UK who had been born in Zimbabwe.
In an interview with Nehanda Radio, analyst Pride Mkono dismissed the Zimstat figures saying that Zimbabweans in the diaspora could not be less than 1 million following more than three decades of their immigration to other countries due to socio-economic and political pressures at home.
Mkono further stated that the number was deliberately misrepresented to devalue the significance of the diaspora vote.
This comes at a time when the opposition, mainly the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party, is calling for the enactment of diaspora vote policies ahead of the 2023 elections.
“Zimstat figures are obviously designed to downplay the political significance of the diaspora vote. They will just say ‘it is very low and not really significant on the electoral outcome back home,” he said.
“It is also meant to downplay the fact that over the last 35 years millions of Zimbabweans have in fact crossed the borders to neighboring countries, which is a reality that the government does not want to grabble because it will show that the country has decayed and a significant amount of people has migrated due to economic and social pressures.”
Mkono claimed that the census agency had no capacity to count Zimbabweans in the diaspora because some of them did not want their whereabouts to be known.
“Zimstat, as a starting point, lacks the capacity to account for Zimbabweans in the diaspora. This is because the majority of them don’t want to be counted. So, Zimstat can not offer official intelligence.
“The only people it can count are those they have access to, figures of people whose passports were stamped by immigration officials.
“The other count is when they ask the parents of those people to account for their children who are in diaspora. But that is a very inaccurate count because most of the households are unwilling to disclose their relatives who would have left the country especially when they have done so illegally,” he added.
Another Harare analyst Tinashe Murapata also dismissed the Zimstat survey.
“Population census should never be based on self reporting. And when it’s done, it should come with as many caveats so the audience can understand the pitfalls.
“Zimstats diaspora population is not fact. It’s based on an extremely flawed methodology especially for population study,” he said.