Johannesburg — A grouping of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora has disclosed ambitious plans to raise $50 billion (about R675 billion) to contribute to the resuscitation of the Southern African country's comatose economy.
The Zimbabwe Diaspora Development Chamber (ZDDC) aims to raise the funds, seven months after another consortium called the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) raised a joint $400 million (about R5,4 billion) tender with Transnet of South Africa aimed at recapitalising and operating the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).
ZDDC Chairman, Luke Dzipange Zunga, is also president of the parent organisation known as Global Zimbabwe Forum, said members of the latter had been contributing $50 billion or more annually through remittance to the Zimbabwean economy.
"We will continue to do so," Zunga said in an exclusive interview with CAJ News Africa.
"There are many organizations and companies in the Diaspora formed by Zimbabweans. One such organization, which is quiet but strong, is Global Zimbabwe Forum, the mother body for ZDDC. If all Zimbabweans put their mind on economic programmes in Zimbabwe, there will be an impact. We have to turn Zimbabwe around."
Zunga, an economist, said sectors such infrastructure, energy (electricity), water treatment and reticulation, roads construction, education, health, agriculture, mining, housing and industrialisation were a priority for ZDDC.
"We have to reclaim our country in all sectors," he said.
"The key ones are basic infrastructure. We still need the new government to settle down, then we will indicate how the government should facilitate to take the economy forward," said Zunga.
He said the Zimbabwean Diaspora community, estimated at five million, contributed economically to their host countries acquired high business and entrepreneurial skills enough to revival their home country's economy.
"Yes, there are enough skills. We spend a lot of time on economic research. There are enough skills on both sides. However a more facilitating environment is required," Zunga said.
The official nonetheless hoped for a resolution to the political deadlock emanating from hotly contested elections Zimbabwe held at the end of July.
The governing Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) won two thirds majority against main rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance.
Interim President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has been voted for a substantive five-year term. However, MDC-Alliance's Nelson Chamisa is disputing the poll outcome as rigged.
MDC Alliance is planning to challenge the results in court.
"Of course there are disputes now but we hope for an end to the dispute. We should engage with that government (whoever wins)," Zunga added.
The just-concluded elections were the first to be held since a military coup edged longtime president, Robert Mugabe, out of power last November. Mugabe's regime was blamed for wrecking the country's economy and perpetrating human rights abuses, which saw the country isolated by the international community.
Zunga said while some Zimbabweans in the Diaspora had since returned home, a majority remained outside the country amid mixed feelings over returning.
"The Diaspora has been going back and forth all the time, some fugitively others openly and engaging with government. It is only a small number who could not go back for political reasons. We don't want to dramatize the return because it is not at the level of a wave," he said.
"Some went to vote while others did not. Zimbabwe is still in a transition of uncertainty and everybody is watching where to fit in. It is this continued enabling environment which will see more active involvement."
Zunga urged the new government to utilize the expertise of Zimbabweans outside the country.
"There is a wealth of skills and ideas which will turn the country around," he assured.
He proposed the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address past human rights violations that forced some Zimbabweans out of the country.
"Also the government can give a general amnesty by way of a gazette proclamation so that there is no fear. The best of Zimbabwe is still ahead of us, but we will get there," Zunga concluded.