Snubbing the Diaspora could haunt Zimbabwe
by DANIEL JONES
VICTORIA FALLS – ZIMBABWE has lost out on an investment opportunity after its investment agency turned down a proposal by some of the country’s nationals based in the Diaspora.
The Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA) reportedly snubbed the foreign-based nationals’ proposal to invest in the tourism sector in Victoria Falls.
Fredrick Shava, the Foreign Affairs Minister, disclosed the impasse at pre-budget seminar held in the tourism city.
“They (Diasporans) are very keen to come to Victoria Falls and pour money,” he said.
“Their complaint was that when they came here they made a presentation to ZIDA but did not get a response. Let’s encourage these men and women who are in the Diaspora to invest in their country.”
Shava appealed to the government to warm up to its Diaspora population to allow them to invest home.
Zimbabwe has an estimated 3 million people in the Diaspora.
Most unceremoniously left the country at the height of political instability during the reign of then-President Robert Mugabe.
Zimbabwe lost thousands of skilled men and women who went to seek greener pastures abroad.
It is estimated they contribute US$100 million to the economy per month through remittances.
“Let’s us encourage them to invest in Zimbabwe from wherever they are,” Shava said.
Government established ZIDA to attract investors into the country.
The administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been courting investors to invest in new tourism infrastructure in Victoria Falls, a city which the government wants to make its conference capital.
An integrated development master plan for Victoria Falls is being developed and requires funding.
Members of Parliament (MPs) implored the government to come up with policies to create an appetite for Zimbabweans abroad to use formal means to send money.
“We were in Dubai on official assignment recently and Zimbabweans there outnumbered us,” said Ruth Labode, a proportional representation MP for Matabeleland North.
“They were looking for opportunities to put money in and we were not ready to help them, we disappointed them. This is a long hanging fruit, they want to invest back home but are not sure which sectors they can get into,” Labode said.
Themba Mliswa, Norton MP, said the government should change its stance on diasporans and allow them to vote as a way of encouraging them to invest.
“People in the diaspora send money informally and part of it is what goes into the parallel market. Let’s have a credible financial system that allows them to send money home without hustles,” Mliswa said.
He also raised the divisive issue of the Diaspora vote.
“We also should allow the diaspora population to vote in general elections, that way they will feel compelled to invest back home because no one would
really want to pour money where they are entitled to nothing,” Mliswa said.
Jacob Mudenda, the Speaker of Parliament, implored the Government to speed up development of the integrated master plan for Victoria Falls so as to open gates for investors.
– CAJ News