HARARE – Amadou Rudahusha, a 53-year-old Congolese transport mogul in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, boasts a fleet of 37 buses, and over the years, he has created numerous jobs for residents.
With his buses, Rudahusha, who came to Zimbabwe more than two decades ago fleeing civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has managed to break free from extreme poverty, saving many residents from joblessness in the process.
He said that each of his buses, popularly known as “kombis” in Zimbabwe, employs a driver and a conductor, for a total of 74 people that the expatriate businessman directly employs.
Besides these, Rudahusha said there have been many all over the routes plied by his kombis who make a living as ticket sellers.
“You see, it’s not all about formal jobs, but it’s about how I’ve made other people also earn some money because of the operations of my transport business — some directly employed by my business and others, of course, indirectly,” he told Anadolu Agency.
Female migrant employers
Women who have migrated to Zimbabwe have also made fortunes as entrepreneurs. Aadvika Nhantumbo, 48, is one such woman, owning 47 mini-grocery shops across the capital Harare, as well as the cities of Mutare, Marondera, and Chivhu.
Nhantumbo employs 141 workers at her establishments, each of which have three shopkeepers.
Her employees, like 26-year-old Linet Sambiri, who has been working for the Mozambican migrant entrepreneur, said many like herself have nothing to worry about as long as they work for Nhantumbo.
“She pays us well, on time, and even if the money will never be enough, we’re managing to survive and meet our basic needs on a daily basis,” she told Anadolu Agency.
Migrants to the rescue
In fact, migrants like the Rudahusha and Nhantumbo are making economic headways in the southern African country at a time when it is contending with more than 90% unemployment, according to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
Yet, the migrants who have clinched opportunities in the midst of mounting poverty have emerged with numerous job opportunities.
Their strides forward also come at a time when the world is commemorating International Migrants Day on Dec. 18.
This year, the day falls almost exactly seven decades after the Brussels conference that led to the establishment of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The UN agency is the principal intergovernmental organization dealing with migration issues and deals with all aspects of migration.
Just last year, according to the IOM, there were 281 million migrants representing 3.6% of the global population.
Of these, the IOM said Zimbabwe holds an estimated 207,000 who hail from neighboring countries such as Malawi and Mozambique, with others coming from as far as Nigeria.
As migrants to Zimbabwe showcase their capacity to surmount joblessness, their actions, deemed noble by many struggling Zimbabweans, have coincided with this year’s theme of International Migrants Day, Harnessing the potential of human mobility.
Others in Zimbabwe, such as 27-year-old Rodwell Muhambakwe, view migrants rather as exploiters.
“We have Chinese migrants here. Shall we say they are creating employment when they are brutalizing the local people they employ? No. Shall we say they have created employment when they pay peanuts or nothing at all to our people?” asked Muhambakwe.
However, for economists like Hillary Chiwawa in Harare, not all is bad with migrant employers flocking to Zimbabwe.
“Apart from employing our local people, migrants pay with their knowledge, networks, and skills to build stronger, more robust communities,” she told Anadolu Agency.
Development expert Pritchard Hamandishe also agrees with Chiwawa.
“With migrants, I tell you the global social and economic landscape can be shaped through impactful decisions to address the challenges and opportunities presented by global mobility and people on the move,” said Hamandishe.
Nunurai Hoto, a labor expert in Harare, said that many, thanks to their entrepreneurial skills, have become major sources for tax revenue for the country even as it contends with a failing economy.
“Migrants who have opened formal and even informal business ventures are contributing more in taxes and social contributions than they then get in benefits from the government here,” Hoto told Anadolu Agency. “Occupation is the single biggest element of migrants’ net fiscal contribution.”
As such, many Zimbabweans like shopkeeper Sambiri, who have gained much as workers for migrant entrepreneurs, are glad that their employers arrived in the country.
“I know I wouldn’t be having a job as we speak if my foreign employer had not come to my country. It’s known that most firms both locally owned and foreign-owned are shutting down and jobs are being lost daily, but with migrants still coming into the country, perhaps this will become a thing of the past,” said Sambiri.