Diaspora keeps Zim afloat but no vote
ALTHOUGH Zimbabweans in the diaspora are not allowed to vote from their host nations, their cash remittances back home are fast growing and helping to keep the country afloat.
Last year, remittances scaled US$1.66 billion, a 16% increase from US$1.43bn in 2021.
Meanwhile, total international remittances rose to US$2.8bn from US$2.4bn.
The Monetary Policy Statement presented by Reserve Bank governor John Mangudya yesterday showed that South Africa, which is host to millions of Zimbabweans, dominates the remittances sources with a staggering 40% contribution or US$583 375 863 of the remittances which came through money transfer agencies.
It is followed by the United Kingdom, which contributed US$361 681 114 or 25% of the remittances. The UK also has a large number of Zimbabweans.
The US contributed 11% of remittances with US$158 920 458, followed by Australia with 6% as well as Canada and Botswana with 3% each.
Malawi, Ireland, Germany and New Zealand contributed 1% each, while the rest of the world contributed the remaining 10%.
A total of 88% of the remittances came through money transfer agencies while 12% came through banks.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has over the years come under heavy criticism for wanting to abuse diasporans by encouraging them to remit and luring them into investing millions of dollars in the country, while denying them the right to vote.
Addressing thousands of people at the Independence Day celebrations in Bulawayo last year, Mnangagwa was mum on the right of Zimbabweans dotted across the globe to vote, although he spoke about diaspora investments.
Two days later, his cabinet said it was 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,” then 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 Affairs minister Frederick 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 put in place to push 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.
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.