24 December 2013

Zimbabwe: Diaspora Bond Rejection a Sign of Zanu-PF 'Distrust'

Serious distrust of the ZANU PF government has been described as the key stumbling block, preventing Diaspora bonds being a success in Zimbabwe.

The proposed bonds are part of the national budget for 2014 released after much delay by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa last week. Many Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have already rejected the idea as a 'non-starter'.

Chinamasa said during the budget announcement that Zimbabwe receives $1.6 billion in remittances from the Diaspora every year. He proposed a Diaspora bond system in an attempt to better harness this cash injection to help fund Zimbabwe's development.

The bonds are based on the sale of the government's debt, with Diaspora investors able to earn interest on these 'loans'. According to the African Arguments website remittances are "often sent in response to family and community needs," while Diaspora bonds "are a direct investment in the economy at the national level."

"The attraction for governments is plain enough, but is the temptation worth the risk for their citizens in the Diaspora? Like all investors, Diaspora Africans are being asked to take a bet on the future prosperity and stability of their countries of origin," African Arguments states.

The bond proposal by the new government has prompted angry reactions from many Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, who have been actively disenfranchised by the ZANU PF regime. The party has blocked the Diaspora from having voting rights, meaning the millions of Zimbabweans abroad are barred from helping choose the country's leadership.

The ZANU PF regime has also fought to prevent Zimbabweans abroad from obtaining dual citizenship, despite the thousands of people who fled the country as a result of the party's actions.

This furious online commentator said: "These people have no shame. First they call us bottom cleaners, then they deny us the vote. Now they want us to invest in government issued bonds. I know what you can do with your bonds."

Another online user said: "... the (government) that wants my money doesn't want my Diaspora vote! Hypocrisy or self-delusion?"

This Twitter user meanwhile said: "We were not allowed to vote now they want our money with the so called Diaspora bonds?"

Durani Rapozo, coordinator of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Development Link, said the trust issue is one that must be addressed in order for Zimbabweans abroad to confidently invest back home.

"The bonds will not work. We in the Diaspora don't want an imposition of investment rules by the government, what we want is an engagement on the best way of investment," Rapozo said.

He argued: "There's nobody who wants to invest in an unstable environment, and instability comes from not knowing about dual nationality issues and so on. We need to engage the government and say: 'This what we want as the Diaspora and this is what we think is the best way forward'."

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