THE ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade will in April host the Invest in Africa Conference (IAC) and the Eighth Pan-African Conference (PAC) to lure the diaspora community to invest more in Zimbabwe, despite denying the foreign-based citizens the right to vote in the August general elections.
The conference will be jointly hosted by the ministry, the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (Zida) and the Africa Diaspora Development Institute (ADDI) at the Harare International Conference Centre from 12 to 17 April.
The conference is envisaged to enable the government to use the diaspora community to boost the image of the country to the outside world in the name of “Pan-Africanism”, yet the Zimbabwean authorities are denying foreign-based citizens the right to vote.
The ministry said the conference will, “provide a platform to improve the image of the country to the outside world and encourage diaspora investment back home”.
“Establish a platform where diaspora investors interact with local entrepreneurs, partners, collaborators, and government officials and initiate direct business deals for mutual benefits,” added the ministry.
At the conference, PAC is going to promote Pan-Africanism although the ministry of foreign affairs and international trade has repeatedly ignored the plea for a diaspora vote in the elections.
“PAC will promote Pan-Africanism through business, trade and cultural exchange forums expected to take place during the conference,” said the ministry.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has over the years come under heavy criticism for seeking to abuse diasporans by encouraging them to remit money back home and luring them to invest in the country while denying them the right to vote.
The country continues to rake in billions of dollars in remittances from the diaspora, which are contributing to foreign currency inflows and keeping the country afloat.
Last year, remittances reached US$1.66 billion, a 16% increase from US$1.43 billion in 2021.
Meanwhile, total international remittances rose to US$2.8 billion from US$2.4 billion.
When the diaspora community protested to have their votes counted, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the country’s constitution only allowed voting in the 210 constituencies that are inside Zimbabwe and nowhere else.
The cabinet said it created a diaspora-friendly environment policy framework that would assist the country to harness social, economic, political and cultural dividends, which could help propel development.
However, the policy sought to exploit the diasporans for economic development which blocking them from participating in the political affairs of the country.
Millions of Zimbabweans are outside the country mainly in countries like South Africa, Botswana, United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States as economic and political refugees.