Migration can pose both benefits and challenges: Speaker of National Assembly

Jacob Mudenda

Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda has said migration poses both benefits and challenges to society hence the need for better management of the phenomenon.

He made the remarks at the Capacity Building Workshop for the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services and the Thematic Committee on Human Rights at Kadoma Ranch Motel. The workshop seeks to guarantee and contribute towards the urgent establishment of a governance matrix in Zimbabwe which is migrant – centred, gender sensitive, human rights based and is constitutionally grounded.

Advocate Mudenda said the migrants’ journey is sometimes littered with thorny challenges.

“On a daily basis, media houses churn out sad stories on migration. In the first week of February this year, the British Guardian reported that 102 migrants, including 7 children from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria were rescued whilst trying to enter Britain using inflatable boats. Whilst some migrants manage to reach their destination, others have been unfortunate such as with the case in 2013 where 368 migrants died following the sinking of 2 boats near the Italian island of Lampedusa. According to the IOM, in 2016 almost 8 000 migrants died or went missing worldwide,” Advocate Mudenda said.

The Mediterranean Sea accounted for more than 60 percent of migrant deaths and/or missing migrants. It is the worst death trap for migrants. Of those deaths and those who went missing, 1400 were from North Africa. This was attributed to the harsh natural environment, dangerous transportation conditions, violence and abuse as well as sickness and starvation. The Libyan war conflict continues to be the worst motivating factor of this disaster. Consequently, migration has now become a public policy conundrum for the international community.

To this end, Parliamentarians as policy makers have a grave responsibility of putting in place measures and policies which address the root causes of migration in an attempt to mitigate the exigencies of the phenomenon of migration so that their negative impacts are ameliorated.

While there are negative challenges of migration, Advocate Mudenda said the 2018 Report by IOM outlines some of the benefits of migration.

He said the wages of the migrants can lead to considerable improvement in the welfare of their families such as health and education, among others. A World Bank report of 2009 outlined that migrants from the poorest countries, on average, experience a 15 fold increase in income, a doubling of school enrolment rates and a 16-fold reduction in child mortality after moving to a developed country’. Additionally, some Diasporan migrants are desirous to invest back home provided there is a positive Diasporan policy and Law which guarantee return on investment and property rights.

There are assumptions that emigration can reduce unemployment and underemployment. Migration can contribute to poverty reduction and foster broader economic and social development in countries of origin. According to the World Bank, in 1990 migrants remitted about USD29 billion to low and middle income countries. In the year 2000 the amount was more than doubled to USD 74 billion and by 2016 it stood at USD 429 billion. Furthermore, it is estimated that global remittances are more than 3 times the amount of official development aid from developed countries.

It has been noted that migration can lead to transfer of skills, knowledge and technology. Migration can have a positive impact on the labour market by increasing labour supply, especially for sectors with shortages of workers in the host countries.

However, he noted that whilst migrant workers are making significant economic contributions to their countries of origin and that of their destination, it has been noted that there are some policy gaps on legal protection and non-recognition of the rights of migrants.

The Speaker highlighted some of the areas that need attention; especially human trafficking and forced labour. To that end he said there is need to ensure that migration policies are consistent with all government programs and policies in accordance with international best practices; and to Constitutionally align and reconcile national laws with international protocols on migration as a matter of urgency.

Speaking at the same occasion, the Chief of Mission of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Mr. Mario Lito Malanca reiterated IOM’s renewed commitment and support to the Government of Zimbabwe in the area of migration management.

IOM in collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe, is implementing a project “Promoting Migration Governance in Zimbabwe” which is funded by the European Union under the framework of the 11th European Development Fund. The project seeks to contribute to the establishment of a migration governance framework (policy, institutional and legislative) in Zimbabwe that supports State actors to manage migration in dialogue with non-State actors and in a migrant-centred, gender-sensitive, rights-based and development-oriented manner.

“For us, increased migration is inevitable, due to the digital revolution, distance-shrinking technologies, demographics and disasters; it is necessary, for durable and equitable economic growth; and migration is desirable, if well-governed. Migration is here to stay: so rather than seeing migration as a problem to be solved, we must regard it as a human reality to be managed. As we face the continuation of simultaneous, unprecedented and complex emergencies, people will continue to flee and resort to migration as a coping mechanism. To face the challenges associated with such scenarios, we need to actively tackle the root causes and promote and abide by commonly shared values that will address the risks to such mobility,” Mr. Malanca said.

Ambassador Timo Olkkonen, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe revealed that the European Union has provided approximately 3 million Euro for a project “Promoting Migration Governance in Zimbabwe” in cooperation with IOM.

He said the EU funded migration programme fits in a broader approach to governance and institutional strengthening agreed with Zimbabwe when in early 2015 they signed the National Indicative plan which centres on the implementation of the 2013 Constitution.

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