Zimbabweans in Botswana

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Zimbabweans in Botswana
Total population
Regions with significant populations

There is a significant population of Zimbabweans in Botswana.

Numbers and distribution[edit]

Economic and political problems in Zimbabwe have led to significant increases in migration to Botswana since the early 2000s.[1] By 2003, it was estimated that there were 40,000 Zimbabwean migrants in the country, of whom only one-third were resident legally.[2] Many reside in the Ledumadumane suburb of the capital Gaborone.[3] There is also a camp for Zimbabwean refugees at Dukwe.[4]

Illegal migration[edit]

The number of undocumented Zimbabwean migrants in Botswana was estimated at between forty and one hundred thousand as of 2009.[5] In 2012, Botswana deported 17,402 Zimbabweans, while in 2013 it had already deported 22,675 in the first ten months of the year.[6]

The illegal immigration issue has produced various tensions between the governments of Botswana and Zimbabwe, with Paul Mangwana even threatening to expel all Botswana nationals from Zimbabwe in response to the alleged poor treatment which Zimbabweans face in Botswana.[2] Botswana claims to have deported 26,717 Zimbabweans residing in the country illegally in 2002.[7] Beginning the following year, they also began to build an electrified fence along their boundary with Zimbabwe. Botswana's agricultural officials assert that the main purpose of the fence is to stop animal rather than human migration, with the aim of preventing the transmission of foot-and-mouth disease, but Zimbabwe's high commissioner in Gaborone rejects this explanation, calling it an attempt to make Zimbabwe into a "Gaza Strip".[8] One survey found a support rate of 63% for the fence.[9]

Human rights abuses faced by Zimbabweans in Botswana have also become the subject of a play entitled "Voice of the People", with actors from both countries.[10]


Zimbabweans are the most numerous nationality among registered foreign workers in Botswana.[11] More than half of Zimbabwean migrant workers are employed in cow herding and similar agricultural occupations, while others work in construction, real estate, retail, education, health and manufacturing.[12] Others, especially the more-easily-exploited irregular migrants, are engaged as maids or in sex work.[13]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Campbell & Oucho 2003, p. 2
  2. ^ a b Mukumbira, Rodrick (2003-05-01), "Botswana Countryfile: Citizens turn on Zimbabwean migrants", African Business, retrieved 2009-08-25 
  3. ^ "Botswana hunts down illegal Zim immigrants", ZimOnline News Agency, 2006-11-12, archived from the original on August 27, 2009, retrieved 2009-08-25 
  4. ^ Betts & Kaytaz 2009, p. 18
  5. ^ Betts & Kaytaz 2009, p. 17
  6. ^ Nyathi, Kitsepele (2013-11-25), "Botswana kicks out more illegal Zimbabwe immigrants", Africa Review, retrieved 2013-11-30 
  7. ^ "More than 26,000 Zimbabweans repatriated from Zimbabwe last year", Associated Press, 2003-07-16, retrieved 2009-08-25 
  8. ^ Phillips, Barnaby (2004-03-30), "Zimbabwe crisis spills over border", BBC News, retrieved 2009-08-26 
  9. ^ Campbell & Oucho 2003, p. 20
  10. ^ Ngwenya, Martin (2009-01-01), "Play Showcases the Plight of Zimbabean Refugees in Southern Africa", Voice of America, archived from the original on August 27, 2009, retrieved 2009-08-25 
  11. ^ "Number of foreign workers go up", Mmegi, 2009-05-05, retrieved 2009-08-26 
  12. ^ "Most Zimbabweans in Botswana herding cattle", Nehanda Radio, 2009-01-27, retrieved 2009-08-25 [dead link]
  13. ^ Betts & Kaytaz 2009, p. 19


External links[edit]