Bring us money, not your votes
…Diaspora puts president under fire
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has come under heavy criticism for wanting to abuse diasporans by luring them into investing millions of dollars in the country, while he continues denying them the right to vote.
Mnangagwa on Monday spoke about diaspora investments while addressing thousands at the Independence Day celebrations in Bulawayo, but remained mum on the right of Zimbabweans dotted across the globe to vote. Cabinet on Wednesday said the government is creating a diaspora-friendly environment policy framework that will assist the country to harness social, economic, political and cultural dividends which would help spur development in the country.
“The promotion of investments by diasporans in their country is part of the Second Republic’s engagement and re-engagement thrust. Diaspora remittances have been one of the key foreign currency contributors in the past,” acting Information minister Jenfan Muswere said.
“The development of a comprehensive policy and strategies will unlock knowledge and skills transfer; diaspora direct investment; and philanthropic works. Government, on the other hand, will avail industrial shells and land to eligible diasporans for the construction of specialist hospitals and industrial parks and any other areas or sectors.
Government will also facilitate the establishment of joint ventures between diasporans and landowners for the production and export of high quality agricultural products and any other sector for investment.” In his presentation to cabinet, Foreign minister Fredrick Shava said the engagement with the diaspora will contribute to the country’s economic development.
An inter-ministerial committee chaired by Shava and deputised by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube has since been put in place. The government is pushing its entities and corporates to ensure a friendly environment to lure diasporans into investing in the country.
“In addition, the consular services abroad will be strengthened in order to issue civil registration documents, visas and work permits. A diaspora bond will be listed on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange by the ministry of Finance and Economic Development once finalised.”
“It was further resolved that a One-Stop Service Centre for diaspora investment applications be set-up at the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (Zida) to expedite the processing of the proposals,” Muswere said in his post-cabinet briefing.
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said Mnangagwa must be sincere and “holistic” in his approach and ensure those he wants to invest in the country are also accorded the right to vote.
“What Mnangagwa must do is to move a holistic package to the Zimbabwean community in the diaspora, which is their participation in the governance by enabling them to vote at the same time encouraging them to invest in Zimbabwe by clearly identifying the opportunities available for them,” Mukundu said.
“He also has to address the issue of the lack of property rights or the perception that in Zimbabwe the government can wake up and take any investment,” he said.
“There is perception of Zimbabwe as lawless and that hinders the participation of the diaspora into fully investing in the country. For me, it is critical that when you engage the diaspora community, do not only ask them to invest but also identify a role for them in the governance of the country and it is important that they should also vote then address the negative security perception that those with power can do as they please in this country.”
Another analyst Alexander Rusero said by calling for diaspora investments without addressing the issue of them voting, the authorities were showing hypocrisy.
“There is some element of double standards and hypocrisy exhibited by the government pertaining the matter. The government can’t have selected priority when considering the diaspora. On one hand they acknowledge the criticality of the diaspora by attempting to factor them in its developmental trajectory. On the other, the government is adamant that the diaspora can’t vote, it gives as an impression as if it is practically impossible for them to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right.”
“The Mnangagwa government is sadly a profit-oriented government. When it sees avenue of profit in the form of taxes and remittances from the diaspora, they are all of a sudden important, when it pertains to the people’s right to plebiscite, the government either pretends this populace doesn’t exist or it’s impractical to do so. It’s chicanery,” Rusero said.
The deposed United Kingdom-based Ntabazinduna traditional leader, Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Felix Ndiweni said there was need for a global coalition of countries to push Zimbabwe on the diaspora vote.
“The government has rejected our campaign for diaspora vote for 12 years now. In public and in court, (Zanu PF politburo member) Patrick Chinamasa said government will never accept 5.5 million Zimbabwean diasporans to vote. So we need a global coalition of countries to change our government’s mindset on this.”
Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya took to microblogging site Twitter, saying: “In his independence speech in Bulawayo Mnangagwa invited Zimbabweans in diaspora, who are not allowed to vote under Zanu PF rule, to return home and invest in the country. The system doesn’t allow diaspora vote, but wants their remittances.”
In a recent interview with The NewsHawks, South African opposition leader Mmusi Maimane said his country must also support diaspora voting for Zimbabweans scattered around the globe, including in the neighbouring state, to be allowed to participate in democratic processes.
“This is something that South Africa already allows its own citizens. If you are a citizen of South Africa, living and working in another part of world, you can still participate in your democracy, your vote is still given expression because a vote is a fundamental part of personhood and dignity.”
“Overseas voting is important to solving the problem of captured democracy in Zimbabwe. Those who left did not abdicate their democratic rights and in many instances they were forced to leave by an atmosphere of violence and repression.”
Millions of Zimbabwe are outside the country, mainly in countries like South Africa, Botswana, United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, as economic and political refugees.
Many of them fled the country at the height of the political and economic crisis that has persisted over the years.