The economic meltdown in recent years saw millions of Zimbabweans trek to the diaspora in search of greener pastures, leaving their spouses to raise children, care for aging parents, and attend to all other domestic challenges.
It’s estimated that there are at least two million Zimbabweans living outside the country, due to economic or political reasons, while some left to study abroad or take up temporary assignments from the government or a multinational firm.
Recently, media reports quoted Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa as saying that divorce and other civil lawsuits increased by at least 50% in 2012. Social workers attribute a growing number of these cases to economic challenges and long distance relationships.
Jessie Majome, Deputy Minister of Women's Affairs, tells VOA that she blames emigration on “the economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe [that] has brought about a social crisis that is very personal, that has wreaked havoc in the homes where families are disintegrating because of the necessity to live apart due to the economic and political hardships that Zimbabwe has been facing.”
Majome said: “This goes a lot to showing how we need, as a country, to urgently deal with our political mess and have political stability that brings economic development that then allows people to come back and to work for their families in the country.”
She said the divorce statistics are alarming, and labeled children as “the biggest casualties of all this.”
Even in families not impacted by divorce, many children live with one parent or even both parents living abroad. In such circumstances, parents often leave their children with relatives or friends, circumstances where the children may not receive adequate protection.