Golden Sibanda in DUBAI, United Arab Emirates
Zimbabwe’s community in the Diaspora has an important role to play in the national development of the country and initiatives for the attainment of Vision 2030, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said yesterday.
The Second Republic, after coming into office in November 2017, set itself the target of building the economy and transforming Zimbabwe into an upper middle income economy, also known as Vision 2030, with per capita income of at least US$3 400.
VP Chiwenga said in line with National Development Strategy (NDS1) objective of devolving Diaspora initiatives the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade had toured Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces to appreciate projects being undertaken by the Diaspora. This would give insights into projects open for uptake and investments by the Diaspora across all regions. This will entail engaging all line ministries and provincial ministers of devolution to appreciate initiatives which the Diaspora can partake in.
Government has deployed funding in each province for key projects, into which members of the Diaspora can also direct their savings for a profitable return. He implored Zimbabweans outside the country to invest in agriculture, mining, energy and power, manufacturing and infrastructure development.
“It is in those projects that we want you also to take part,” the Vice President said this could be done through Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ministry.
He said there were many avenues through which the Diaspora can participate Zimbabwe’s development, including trade promotion, markets for each province, Diaspora investments, knowledge and skills transfer, Diaspora remittances and philanthropic initiatives.
Addressing Zimbabweans in the Gulf Region in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he is scheduled to attended the Global Business Forum Africa (GBFA) tomorrow and on Thursday on the sidelines of Expo 2020 Dubai, the Vice President said Vision 2030 would definitely be achieved.
He said Government had adopted the policy decision to take advantage of every opportunity of the presence of senior Government officials abroad to meet and interact with the Diaspora in order to listen to the concerns, aspirations and dialogue for mutual benefit.
“You have a role to play in the building and reconstruction of our country. It has become generally accepted that many Zimbabweans, who live in Diaspora like you are transnational migrants who continue to maintain social, economic and cultural ties with their kinsmen and institutions back home. Despite your prolonged stay here, you still remain Zimbabweans.
“This gives you the chance to play a key role in Zimbabwe’s economic reconstruction agenda, as such Government is happy that its nationals in the Diaspora have demonstrated keen interest to maintain links with their home towns, provinces, districts and or even villages,” he said.
“The maintenance of such ties with your country of origin, should enable you Zimbabwe nationals in the Diaspora to contribute and positively impact the development trajectory of your beloved country back home. Indeed, as nationals it would be amiss of you to forget, neglect or despise your roots,” he said.
He said wherever the Zimbabwe Diaspora are they should be driven to fly the country’s flag high without forgetting the imperative to lift up those back home out of poverty.
The Vice President commended the Diaspora that have formed alumni associations of their local areas of origin and used such platforms to invest across the socio economic divide.
For instance, he said in 2019 the Zimbabwe Life Project visited the country and donated medical equipment, which has made a huge difference to the country’s recuperating health system.
“It is through such benevolent activities that Zimbabwe nationals in the Diaspora can contribute towards the certainty of achieving our national aspirations of attaining inclusive upper middle income economy society by 2030, as clearly enunciated by our President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa,” he said.
“We will achieve that together, and there will be no failure. By 203o (Zimbabwe will have attained upper middle income status), and we are giving ourselves time, but we can achieve that even much earlier, all that is needed is to put our heads together, put our efforts together and we will achieve,” he said.
The Government of Zimbabwe, the Vice President said, recognised the central role and importance of the Diaspora in national development as early as 2016, when it formulated the National Diaspora policy, which would be continuously updated.
Zimbabweans living and working outside have justified this recognition by increasing remittances back home. VP Chiwenga said receipts from Diaspora remittances, over the half year to June this year, had exceeded well over US$1 billion.
He also pledged Government commitment to addressing challenges faced by the Diaspora with regard to access to identity and travel documents, without which he said, it would be difficult for Zimbabweans to live and work outside the country.
This noble intention has been carried forward through inclusion in the National Development Strategy (NDS1), Zimbabwe’s mid term economic blueprint for the period 2020-2025, which would employ a number of strategies to include the Diaspora in the national development agenda.
These include review of the policy and legislation to take on board the aspirations of Zimbabweans outside the in all matters of national development while promoting Diaspora engagements whenever feasible, “so that them and us or us and them” becomes a thing of the past.
Government will also establish institutional co-ordinating structures at home and abroad to work with the Diaspora, including forming and capacitating the National Diaspora Taskforce and associations.
Transfer of the Diaspora directorate from Treasury to Ministry of Foreign Affairs was done to ensures it deals more closely with the interests and aspirations of the Zimbabwe Diaspora.
Further, the Government has established a Diaspora investment framework to promote private public partnerships aimed at facilitating Diaspora consortiums.
Vice President Chiwenga said Government had put in place policies and legislation to address issues of property title to address some of the concerns of the Diaspora.
Further, he said the Government was keen to promote investments by locals working abroad, as demonstrated in the contracts awarded to Zimbabwean companies for the construction and upgrading of Beitbridge road, which has proved a success significantly cheaper.
“That is what we are going to do. We will empower and create our own entrepreneurs; we will empower our own people. So, someone was talking, ‘I am in construction; I am building spaghetti roads here; we are (also) doing that back home, come back home and do it,” he said.
VP Chiwenga said what was important at the moment was to construct and rebuild the country, put food on the table, make sure everybody had access to good healthcare services and decent jobs. “That’s what we want, that’s what the Second Republic wants to achieve, to build Zimbabwe; a beautiful Zimbabwe; we do not feed (survive) on politics by the way,” he said.
He said never again should Zimbabwe lag behind, stressing that the country will, going forward, move along the development path as fast as it can with the rest of the world. Reiterating President Mnangagwa’s remarks, he said “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo”.
“So, non but ourselves will take Zimbabwe to greater heights through hard work, resourcefulness and ingenuity; brick upon brick, stone upon stone, until we get there. We are not going anyone to build our country except ourselves, the Vice President said.
He said Zimbabwe adopted an inclusive and all stakeholder approach to engage the Diaspora, culminating in the national Diaspora taskforce coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and includes ZimTrade, Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) and other Government related entities that deal with Diaspora affairs.