Zimbabwe Social Structure

Today’s society in Zimbabwe is divided into different social groups, which can be traced back to different historical waves of immigration and the legacy of the settler colony. The geographical and ecological conditions also have an impact on settlement and contacts with neighboring countries. These differences were intensified by the Mugabe government over decades through political decisions and economic measures as well as the allocation of development funds and humanitarian aid.

Social and economic situation

The unemployment and associated poverty have become structural problems since 2000th According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), Zimbabwe is one of the world’s top unemployment groups. People who work in the informal sector are not officially assigned to the unemployed category. Young women in particular are affected by the high level of youth unemployment. A good education or a degree does not pave the way into the professional world. There are no political solutions.

The information on the number of those trying to secure their livelihood in the informal sector varies widely. Many people are on income from the informal sector depends what the national social policy before challenges provides. The hardship forces many women and girls into prostitution. This does not only apply to girls in the vicinity of the diamond mines, who have to drop out of school due to the lack of economic opportunities for their parents. You are particularly at risk of contracting HIV.

Urban-rural relationship

According to neovideogames, about 70% of the Zimbabwean population lives in rural areas. Their livelihood is covered less and less by their own agricultural income, but by migrant workers who often migrate to South Africa and then send money. Most rural households lack sufficient land, money, technology, fertilizer and labor. Poverty is a structural problem and particularly affects household managers whose husbands have already died or who have left them. The supply situation of household managers whose husbands send money depends on their job, income, and family bargaining. With reference to gender concepts, women in rural households are shouldered with family care and care for AIDS sufferers and orphans, this also affects poor household managers. Many are HIV positive themselves, which affects their economic capacity. To what extent they will have access to state support is questionable. Individual development organizations dedicate themselves to this target group, for example through targeted agricultural funding and courses to train women in local and regional bodies. Since the border to South Africa was opened in 1994, women have tried to trade through transnational migration or cross-border trade to earn money, for example with handicrafts, in order to cope with their supply burden.


Since the political and economic crisis that started in 2000, many Zimbabweans have fled or migrated to South Africa. Numbers and estimates are often politicized and contentious. In South Africa, numerous Zimbabweans are confronted with xenophobia, for example in Durban in April 2015. Quite a number of Zimbabweans fell victim to xenophobic violence and displacement in the first few months of 2015 and in previous years; a few hundred returned to Zimbabwe.

The reasons for the hostility are complex, including: Many South Africans fear that the comparatively well-educated Zimbabweans would be preferred when choosing a job. Many entrepreneurs and farmers do not pay minimum wages for them. Exploitation and abuse are common. By the end of an official registration deadline at the end of 2010 – or in July 2011 – only around 275,000 Zimbabweans had reported to the South African authorities because they feared harassment; around 134,000 applications were approved. Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans were expelled every year.

In March 2014, the South African ambassador to Zimbabwe announced that all unregistered Zimbabweans should apply for a residence permit, otherwise they would be threatened with deportation. The issuing of a work permit has also been tightened drastically. The number of Zimbabweans in South Africa is estimated at over 1.5 million people. Many migrated to Zimbabwe following mass layoffs and the bankruptcy of numerous companies. In October and November 2014, new regulations for the registration of Zimbabwean migrants and employees came into force; however, there was a lot of confusion. This caused controversy and protests. The responsible South African authorities provide current information on the legal conditions and innovations. The economic problems in Zimbabwe and the possibilities or difficulties in South Africa influence decisions about migration, which differ among people in different Zimbabwean provinces.

Around 55,000 people went to Great Britain during the crisis years and at least 40-100,000 to Botswana, the majority of whom are not registered. They looked for work and protection from political persecution. They send money and goods to their relatives. Many children grow up with grandmothers or other relatives. This by no means only applies to AIDS orphans. The associated demographic tasks become clear when looking at the age structure: According to estimates by Index Mundi / CIA World Factbook, 38.62% of all Zimbabweans were younger than 15 years, 4.5% are older than 65 years.

To this day, many Zimbabweans work abroad and provide their family members at home with money from their savings, salaries in the country are mostly low and often irregular. This affects workers in the social sector, for example, whose commitment and performance are lacking, especially in rural regions.

In Zimbabwe itself there were 31,700 refugees at the end of August 2020, the majority from the DR Congo and Mozambique. The UNHCR strives to provide for them. The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) was estimated at around 52,000 in 2019, mainly due to cyclone Idai in March 2019. From party-politically motivated expulsions, the so-called Operation Murambatsvina (Shona meaning “clear away the dirt”), were in May 2005 about 700,000 people affected; the majority of them were expelled from informal urban settlements in the cold winter. Their belongings have been systematically destroyed by bulldozers, state security forces and thugs.

Zimbabwe Grandmother and granddaughter

You may also like...