Against all odds: the academic 'brain drain' and the 'walking dead' in Zimbabwe before the Government of National Unity
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This paper discusses the 'brain drain'and what it calls the \valking dead' in Zimbabwe's institutions of higher learning in the period up tojust before the birth of the Government of National Unity in February 2009. In particular, it focuses on the 'walkingdead, 'that is, those academics who may have been physically present but psychologically absent, yet somehow still managed to keep soul and body together, against all the odds. It uses the University of Zimbabwe as its case study, exploring how the 'walking dead' managed to survive practically, professionally and intellectually in an environment of crisis, uncertainty and desperation during that period. The paper shows how the 'walking dead' managed to make ends meet in order to keep soul and body together. We argue that these academics, at the time, were literally subsidising the institutions that purported to employ them, by channelling their ingenuity towards practical survival strategies. We show where these 'walking dead' were 'drained' to internally, that is, within Zimbabwe and also how the strain of operating in an environment of crisis and uncertainty affected them, both on their persons and in the execution of their triple mandate of teaching, research and community service. The paper also offers an assessment of the calibre of academic staff still at the country's premier university, in terms of their qualifications, work experience and publishing record and shows why some of them, highly experienced and accomplished, have not left the country. The paper closes by suggesting ways of improving the situation, arguing that the best coping strategies are those that address the working conditions, first and foremost.