Last week's instalment on the role the Diaspora can play in rebuilding the economy elicited interesting debate. Many expressed the desire to take part in developing the economy and would need direction from Government on how they can effectively enter the economy.
A few said certain policies needed to be in place before they could put their money into the economy.
Overall and judging by the responses, the interest is high among non-resident Zimbabweans. Many of them said they are just waiting for clearcut policy from Government.
I also noticed in yesterday's paper that the International Organisation for Migration will soon launch another programme to periodically bring in Diaspora professionals after a pilot project launched last year achieved great success.
The first one involved health professionals and university lecturers. This time they intend to bring engineers and personnel in other sectors of the economy.
The fact that the pilot project was actually oversubscribed means that non-resident Zimbabweans really have the desire to help transform the country's landscape for the better.
They thus need all the support and encouragement they can get.
Such firms as NewSteel Zim, formerly Zisco, have also been scouting for Diasporans to come help resuscitate the steel giant and we are informed that they have succeeded in enticing some of the best skills in the region.
Research shows that such countries as India have experienced phenomenal growth in terms of remittances from Indians in the Diaspora. For the Asian country, the figures recorded have grown by about 162 percent in the last few years.
In 2010 alone, India received U$55 billion from the Diaspora followed by China at US$51 billion, Mexico US$22,6 billion, Philippines US$21,3 billion and France US$15,9 billion.
These figures are expected to have grown significantly in 2011, barring the global financial crisis.
This, therefore, means hope is not lost on Zimbabwe. With the right policies and products in place, the Diasporans would certainly not hesitate to invest into their motherland, the only place they call home.
Below are some of the responses I received from those in the Diaspora.
A gentleman from the USA sent this sms:
Great article on engaging the Diaspora Victoria. You are spot on about our desire to invest in our country.
My friends here in the US and the UK and myself will visit around April. We are very interested in doing what we can to help rebuild our economy"
Emmanuel Fadzai Murumbi from South Africa wrote:
Your article in the Herald of January 19, 2012, really struck on my daily business issues. You know what, the Diaspora constituency is a very potential source of recovering our economy, but out here we need to see the policy frameworks changing to guarantee investments' safety and security.
I was in Zimbabwe during the 2011 festive period, what I witnessed is very amazing. It's fine people are able to import cars, but what is the quality thereof . . . used and dumped cars by the Japanese who would have overused the cars beyond their economic lives, talking from an accounting point of view! People are able to buy clothes, but what type . . . all imported! Again people are able to have food and supermarkets shelves are now full, and a worker can easily fill a trolley at a TM Supermarket or Spar . . . but with all imported foodstuffs from South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania or even as far as UK! This is very pathetic.
I believe an economy should have a well functioning manufacturing industry that is supported by good industrial policy framework which encourages the Diaspora community and other investors to safely put their monies in Zimbabwe. The problem I have discovered in Zimbabwe is poor policies in areas of development and reconstruction of our country.
It seems there is a lot of pulling from both sides of the rope, and less energy if put into the development of the country. It's fine that the Government of National Unity brought peace for the time being, but economically, personally, I would say it brought little economic growth since there is no accountability as all parties involved are pulling different directions.
Moving forward with my point of poor policy frameworks, I would delve into the latest advert for application for free-to-air radio stations. What a noble deregulation of the airwaves, and a good move! But the modus operandi thereof is the worst ever to facilitate development in this area of media freedom.
Is it feasible for one to spent US$60 000 for a broadcasting licence which would be operated in a room rented for US$100 a month with maybe US$1 500 adverts income per month? Looking at the size of listenership in Zimbabwe, and curtails in terms of broadcasting content regulations, who really would stick to "boring" radio stations anyway? Take this in the eyes of the proliferation of DStv services and other free digital satellites providers like Philbao and Wiztec.
Why can't the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe relook into this issue? Can't the people at the top of this organisation advise the Government positively with the progressive development of this nation in mind ?
Inasmuch as the Diaspora constituency can make a difference in terms of economic development for the motherland Zimbabwe, why can't also the Government wrap us from the roots of policy making, which is voting? Allowing Zimbabweans based outside the country to vote would be the starting point of free and fair elections, and a step towards democracy.
Examples and case studies around the world are available from South Africa to America. This is the constitutional right of every person of Zimbabwe which if given a way to practise it would make a difference towards economic recovery and redevelopment.
Why can't the Government give the Diaspora community a sense of belonging to their country, so as to give confidence in the country which they can eventually invest their skills and wealth gathered from outside ?
Keep up the good work Vicky with you articles which seek to stir the sleeping giant in Zimbabwe.
Let's continue with the debate and see how best the Diaspora can be accommodated for the good of our country!
In God I trust!