Zimbabwe Diaspora – a case of fatigue and loss of interest

via Zimbabwe Diaspora – a case of fatigue and loss of interest – The Zimbabwean 23/12/2015 by Moses Chamboko

For many years, especially in the last fifteen when the Zimbabwean economy took a sharp nosedive owing to ZANU PF’s classic malfeasance coupled with gross ineptitude, Zimbabweans in the diaspora have done their level best in keeping together the bodies and souls of many in the immediate and extended families as well as sending kids to school.

In the process, the ZANU PF dictatorship also benefitted through these inflows particularly during Gideon Gono’s time when our relatives were forced to exchange hard currency for useless money not worth the paper it was printed on. The last type of this useless currency were bearer cheques which Dr Mzee reportedly called burial cheques.

As years went by, more and more people left Zimbabwe in search of greener pastures while others were literally running away from Mugabe and his mad dogs. From journalists, to engineers, accountants, lawyers, nurses, doctors, tradesmen and the unskilled, we saw an exodus of Zimbabweans trying to improve their lives, far from home.

Despite the distance that separates us, in most cases worsened by seas and oceans, the majority of Zimbabweans in the diaspora remained actively involved with and emotionally attached to developments back home. It is not unusual for a Zimbabwean to start their day with internet browsing of latest news back home. Owing to time difference, most in the diaspora know about latest news in Zimbabwe ahead of those back home.

However, slowly, Zimbabweans in the diaspora are beginning to realise that waiting to return home permanently is turning into perpetuity. Socio-political and economic developments in Zimbabwe are getting worse by the day. The heightening of succession battles in ZANU PF as Mugabe counts his last days (on earth or in office or both), has made the bad situation even worse. Fragmentation and passivity of the opposition adds to the matrix.

There doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of tunnel unless if it’s that of a fast-moving train. The collapse of social service delivery including health and education is not at all an attraction to those in the diaspora. The failure by authorities to provide clean water and construct decent roads while those who should do so continue to earn obnoxious salaries would be funny if it wasn’t sad. In the past, we used to be comforted by the belief that while ZANU PF had destroyed the economy, the encouraging thing was that our infrastructure was intact. This was before we knew that little kids could go swimming, surfing or finishing on some of our roads one day, courtesy of massive potholes on what used to be some of the most decent roads in Africa.

At times one really wonders why anybody would aspire to be president or prime minister of a developed country or chief executive of a multinational organisation when it is equally or more rewarding to be a mere town clerk or parastatal board chairman in Zimbabwe for doing virtually nothing.

If you ask many of them what their job description is, they would probably say “driving an expensive car, fully paid for, living in an effluent home, fully paid for, having a maid, a driver and a gardener, fully paid for, enjoying regional and international travel in first class, fully paid for and drinking imported wine and whisky, fully paid for”. Beyond that, there is nothing else and yet some morons still believe and shout that it is sanctions!

The Zimbabwe diaspora has seriously reflected on this madness for some time and is coming to the realisation that it is time to look to the future and forget about the past, to which Zimbabwe, in its current state, now belongs. Some of them feel they have been taken advantage of, both by their extended families as well as institutions in Zimbabwe most notably, the corrupt, clueless and incompetent government.

When some of us hear about Diaspora Policy in the making, we wonder why it has taken anybody three and half decades to realise that a policy for this critical demography was necessary. One of the reasons is that the mindset in Zimbabwe is that the Diaspora only have one function; to remit their hard earnings to Zimbabwe and shut up.

Even some of our own kith and kin, when we try to advise them on different issues including who not to vote for and what not to spend money on, they easily dismiss us with “Vanhu vemuDiaspora hamuzivi zvinoitika kuno – you Diasporans don’t know what’s happening here”. Even those who struggled with junior certificate have suddenly become wiser than King Solomon because they are not in the diaspora!

Sadly and rather paradoxically, whenever they encounter a problem no matter how big or small, the first person they think of is a relative or friend in the diaspora, even a very distant one. They will send you a text message at 3 am and expect you to call them back. You end up footing the bill for a telephone conversation you did not initiate. As usual, those conversations finish with the person at the other end of the line asking for money to solve this or that problem or to start some kind of a project. They never run out of ideas and don’t listen to what you suggest! You go out of your way and assist, at times knowing they are lying. They often exaggerate things including the price of goods and services.

But when you ask them for a very small favour like checking on your granny or taking some forms to some office, the first thing they expect is compensation, how unthankful!

The government does the same too; send your money but you have no say in what is happening here. Despite the constitution recognising not only dual but multiple citizenship, the ZANU PF government has refused to align relevant legal instruments with the supreme law. In this regard, dual citizenship becomes accessible only to those who can afford to take Tobaiwa Mudede to the constitutional court. The Diaspora is supposed to shut up if they can’t say thank you!

Fatigue and loss of interest is creeping in. Progressively, unless something gives very soon, diaspora remittances are going to drop significantly. Our hardworking brothers and sisters around the world who are earning an honest living have had enough of the madness in Zimbabwe, political and social. For them, it’s probably time to refocus.

In the near future, we are likely to see less and less Zimbabweans around the world visiting home as frequently as they used to do in the past. With kids growing up and marrying from other nationalities other than Zimbabwe, the distance from motherland is not getting shorter. One would rather fly to Bali, Hawaii or some other place than spend a holiday worrying about water, electricity, roads, corruption and poor services at exorbitant prices in Zimbabwe. Hotel rooms cost almost the same as in Sydney, London or New York and you wonder why.

Zimbabwe needs the Diaspora more than the Diaspora needs Zimbabwe. Those in Zimbabwe can keep their brilliant ideas while those in the diaspora hold onto their hard-earned cash. This is the kind of dichotomy we will soon be faced with. The sooner we realise this, the better.

Moses Chamboko is pro-democracy activist and interim secretary General of Zimbabweans United for Democracy (ZUNDE). You may contact him at chambokom@gmail.com


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    Ndonga 6 years ago

    What an insightful article.
    We Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have become weary in the hope of returning home one day. Our children have become more and more incorporated into their new environment and they have found friends and associates who are not Zimbabweans and they get embarrassed about talk of returning to Zimbabwe. These same children of ours can have close friends who are of Zimbabwe parents but our children have not even realised this. It takes subtle interrogation on my part, or on the part of my dear wife to learn that these kids have Zimbabwe born parents…whether Black of White. What a sad situation. And as for sending money home? The loved ones that we worked hard to support are no longer of this World so what is the point of such a sacrifice.
    Yes, Robert Mugabe and his entire ilk have a lot to answer for…and believe me that one day they shall.

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    Roberta Mugarbage 6 years ago

    This article is rather harsh and bitter but I can relate.
    Hearing the same speeches for 20 years now, time to move on.

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    IAN SMITH 6 years ago

    Bob Matibili the Malawian was intent on ensuring he alone lived a lavish life style with all the trimming of the national army and police as his private security, riding the Rolls as would a British aristocrat, flying any where as and when he wished at the nation’s expense. Bob has not one shred of interest in what happens to the Zimbabwean citizen.

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    IAN SMITH 6 years ago

    Bob Matibili the Malawian was intent on ensuring he alone lived a lavish life style with all the trimming of the national army and police as his private security, riding the Rolls as would a British aristocrat, flying any where as and when he wished at the nation’s expense. Bob has not one shred of interest in what happens to the Zimbabwean citizen.

    Bob has gone back to living in the time of settlers( AS HE KEEPS SAYING) the mind has long departed.

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      Yayano 6 years ago

      @Ian Smith – what’s the difference between Bob and yourself if you are such xenophobic? To me you are the exactly the same.

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    Man this is sad. Now it’s happening here in SA, too. Going to have to emigrate a second time.

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    Nyoni 6 years ago

    A very true analysis indeed of the situation we all are facing. We have created this monster and we have done absolutely nothing to rid ourselves of this evil. Interestingly if we look at how the late Kamuzu Banda of Malawi behaved we see the same trait in the way Mugabe acts. Their love for anything English yet these two murderers blamed Colonialism for their problems. Now there are no Colonialists around ( not counting the Chinese) we still have our problems. When are we going to see the light. This regime must go or else Zimbabwe will be no more just a land the way it was found those 100 years ago , barren and desolate .

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    Dr. Gaidzanwa 6 years ago

    Here is a writer who says things the way they are. Like him or hate him, the truth has been said. Some of our kith and kin back home have been supporting and voting ZANU PF all these years and yet when we talk to them, they pretend they are with us. Let us starve them of Diaspora remittances. Let them move on with what they know and we in the Diaspora move on with what we know. Let’s see who is going to win or lose. In 2016, I propose a new campaign – NO REMITTANCES TO ZIM. Let’s give them a taste of their medicine!

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    This dictator and his advisors have no shame. Mugabe is on record denigrating the diaspora, despising us for working in foreign countries, “cleaning the arses of white people” according to him. Yet today, having run down the country thoroughly, he is happy to espouse a Diaspora Policy ostensibly to attract our money. No right thinking person though will respond to that policy. Zimbabwe is so corrupt I would not invest in any program driven by these tsotsis. The ruling class is a product of fraudulently run elections they will never tackle corruption as they are the chief architects and beneficiaries of it. Recently I had the messenger of court attach property on my behalf from a tenant who had not paid rent for a year. I paid $570. The messenger then deliberately protracted to auction the property, taking three months. He and the auctioneer then grabbed $1490 for “storage” and $420 commission from the proceeds of the sale, and handed me $480. In all I was owed $6,500.00. This is the context Chinamasa will announce his diaspora policy and expect us to respond favourably. No. It won’t happen. What happened to Homelink?

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    SimonPetere 6 years ago

    Mwari tibatsirei

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    That thieving, cynical old man that does not care one iota about the situation his country’s people find themselves in, flew off last night (Wednesday) to eat (Christmas) cake in Singapore. He will be gone for at least 3-4 weeks. Hope he comes back in a box wrapped in Christmas paper.

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    I feel you diaspora, but I guess there comes a time in the life of every man and every woman that one has to come to terms with their reality. You are either a Zimbabwean through childhood memories and sponsoring the never ending demands of the less privileged extended family, or a Zimbabwean who will embrace all challenges Zimbabwean and be part and parcel of the solution. Third option is you can actually forget about Zimbabwe and its problems and fully settle wherever you want.

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    Fundani Moyo 6 years ago

    This is an excellent observation of our predicament. We in the diaspora have been and are still taken for granted/taken for a ride. We have nobody to blame but ourselves, because we have created that dependency syndrome where we really are the key enablers both for the Government and our relatives to whom we render support. If we all agreed to send just the minimum, I.e. enough to just buy enough supply of mealie-meal per month, there would be a 360 degree change in the mentality of our family members. As long as we continue to provide for our young relatives’ fancy lifestyles, (they eat take-always, visit beauty salons weekly, own the latest versions of smart phones thanks to our generosity); they will continue to vote for ZANU or MDC-T or remain apathetic while the country is moving backwards. The government also knows that those billions of remittances are garanteed to come even if they deny us our right to vote from where we are. After more than thirty years in a foreign country there is a yearning to be among your own people. Children will be married, start their families and you are stuck in a house or apartment without much purpose in life.

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    Mbuya Emily 6 years ago

    The only other thing that Chamboko left out is that us brothers and sisters and parents at home will get angry when these so much hard working people out the diaspora can not genuinely heip with money.

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    Tsotsi 6 years ago

    Mugabe has been kept in power for 35 years by peasant women who quietly dominate and manipulate their rural menfolk, ensuring ZANU PF gets enough legitimate votes to steal every election since independence. The deviousness of the supposedly uneducated, unsophisticated and therefore benign rural Amai is breathtaking. You see, they figured out voting for Bob and getting (or rather being promised) loads of free sh*t, including land, beats tilling the fields and brewing beer while their typical Zim husbands sat on their arses in the shade.

    The diaspora needs to wake up and smell the coffee: Bob M. may be rigging things now, but he and his cronies, have had rock solid, perverse grassroots rural support for decades. When ZANU PF loses the peasant woman vote, they are finished. It has not happened yet. Repeat, the peasant woman is a stubborn, defiant, devious b*tch.