Economy cannot absorb diaspora expertise

via Economy cannot absorb diaspora expertise by Perry Munzwembiri The Standard October 6, 2013

Zimbabwe has witnessed a significant outflow of her citizens over the years. This was one of the effects of the so-called “lost decade”, where Zimbabweans migrated abroad in droves searching for greener pastures. These now constitute a Zimbabwean diaspora community scattered around the globe. It would be remiss to fault the thousands who left the country at a time when the country was starring down the barrel; hamstrung by hyperinflation and chronic unemployment. The allure of brighter prospects offered by distant lands was simply irresistible to close the eyes to.

The negative upshots this massive drain of skilled human capital has had on the economy have been all too apparent. The nation has been shorn of the expertise of those who could have contributed to the progress of the nation. This argument has steadily gained traction over the years, with the general consensus being that had the diaspora community been around, they would have positively applied themselves to building a better economy.

Various people have been adding their voice to the ever-increasing call for the diaspora community to return home. The question however is, to what exactly should the Zimbabwe diaspora community come back to? At first glance, it may sound unpatriotic to make an assertion of that kind. However, a critical introspection of where we are as a nation would seem to point out the crude fact that nothing has really changed.

Some would argue that it is because of that very fact; that the thousands of Zimbabweans abroad should make the journey back to their motherland. Having been exposed to the developed world, they would be in good stead to help develop the country. Indeed, the skills and expertise that have accrued to them over their stay in foreign developed lands would be essential for the country’s advancement.

Be that as it may, Zimbabwe’s readiness to assimilate the many who left the country is a matter of debate. However unpalatable it may be to some, it is my view that the country is not at present equipped to integrate its returning citizens.

The government has dismally failed to provide meaningful employment for its people. With no means to earn a living in the face of a sky-rocketing cost of living, most resorted to going abroad to earn a living. Years later, though the economic environment has changed somewhat, jobs are still scarce. The government pegs the unemployment rate at around 60% though that figure must be taken with a block of salt if one is to look at reality on the ground. If the Zimbabwe diaspora were to return, it is not immediately foreseeable how they would all be seamlessly integrated into the productive workforce. All this seems to indicate that there is no room for the diaspora community, at least from an employment vantage point.

It is heart-rending to note that as a country, basic amenities are still not being provided sufficiently. The country is still being subjected to the vagaries of erratic utility supplies. At a time when the country needs its industry to be functional, it is hard to see how this can be achieved under the present circumstances. Electricity cuts and water shortages are the order of the day, and this heavily prejudices the economy. The cost of doing business is sharply increased as a result. Even when we are calling for Zimbabweans to come back home and be entrepreneurial, the current situation is untenable and at best does not encourage local enterprise to flourish.

Closely tied to the current inert industrial base, is the issue of budgetary deficits the country has been running. For a long time, the country has been importing more goods than it has been exporting. Remittances by the foreigners have for long been sustaining the budgetary deficit incurred as a result of the country importing more than it has been exporting. The World Bank notes that in most developing countries, remittances are the second largest financial inflow, far exceeding international aid. If the country were to not obtain these financial inflows of money which have been augmenting national income, the effects on the country’s Balance of Payments would be dire. So to the extent that the country’s financial system is reliant on diaspora remittances, it would be a huge disservice to the nation if the Zimbabweans abroad were to come back home.

It would be a fallacy to deny that the en masse migration of Zimbabweans abroad has negatively impacted families, society and ultimately the whole country. In an ideal world, it would have been preferable to have all our citizens hands on deck; working to build the country. At present therefore, it would be a “hard sell” to convince the Zimbabwe diaspora community to settle back home.

 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 23
  • comment-avatar
    Tjingababili 7 years ago

    WHAT ECONOMY! THIS VILLAGE ECONOMY RUN BY A BUNCH OF VILLAGE TRIBESMEN!

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    Zacks 7 years ago

    Mentality has to change one cannot run a country as though there is no tomorrow , no future plans they all seem to plan a day at a time. Let’s face it we would all go back home in a instant but to what?

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    Well said. To make it worse once you have created a prosperous enterprise they believe they have the right to just take it over. Let’s see them create anything without stolen money. Can one name just one Zanoid who created wealth own his own steam just one please i have yet to see it. Please do not mention graces dairy enterprise that she started from her seeing business……. What a joke

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      Tyler 7 years ago

      Well, the founder of Econet is a good example. But, she and her husband are in the minority and faced fierce resistance by the Zim-owned telecom company.

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    Macon Pane 7 years ago

    We always want to “go home”. But, the diaspora has been outside, has seen what lives of choices can be, and have been able to see Zim from a different perspective… the real Zimbabwe. ZANUPF wants their expertise, but is definitely afraid of their experiences.

    What I can’t figure is why ZANUPF supporters don’t return to live in the wonderful haven their party has created… especially, considering their heros have asked them to come back. Maybe those fellas don’t exactly believe their own rehtortic. Ya reckon.

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    william mills 7 years ago

    Only after the residents wander off with a few cows and goats to search for grass, roots, berries, and other peoples’ stuff to steal will it be possible to rebuild a failed-state. This should be possible in maybe a hundred years. So just relax and watch Africa decline further into chaos and failure. It is their birthright.

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    instead of wasting your ink just say Zimbabwe is not a place to work for anyone..unless you are a zanoid

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    Macon Pane 7 years ago

    I own stock in an ink factory.

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    nyashanu 7 years ago

    What happened to the teachers who went back to Zim in 2009

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    jenandebvu 7 years ago

    Grade 3D debate. Where are the industries required for the expertise? If teachers claimed illiteracy; and handed their ballot papers to their headmasters for completion, how would a fitter & turner, an auto electrician or an engineer’s voice be heard?

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    A country run by village idiots, who have no clue on how a modern economy operates!

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    munzwa 7 years ago

    yes jena, the fear factor is still strong. we also at a tipping point in the tax collections, govt, and local govt, revenue is being collected by fewer and fewer taxpayers!the diaspora need to help in identifying and returning the stolen loot of these zanoids!!

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    John Steele 7 years ago

    A very good article… says it how it is in our broken motherland!

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    Zeezee 7 years ago

    Zanu PF does not want the Diaspora to return as for one these people are now probably so much more educated than their own government, which is a huge threat to to them and secondly, the money being sent back to Zim is supporting thousands of unemployed. Zim’s biggest export is their citizens living elsewhere earning cash that Zanu PF is happy to see being sent back into Zimbabwe.

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    Themba Mlangeni 7 years ago

    I am diabetic and left Zim in 2008. That time my salary was $4 trillion. My monthly medication cost $26 trillion. And at the bank I could withdraw a maximum of $500 000.

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    Shelton 7 years ago

    Reading through the article and the comments thereafter. There truly is a need for transformation within Zimbabwe but the transformation is needed in government as that is where most of the problems in the country emanate from. A spirit of enterprise has always been part of a Zimbabwean so the motivation to rebuild is always in the air and ready to take root. The diasporians have seen better than we had been subjected to in the last three decades so in a way its a blessing that many left Zim. We have relied on the MDC to help bring the shift in national governance but it is clear Zimbabweans have lost hope in the current opposition. The need at hand is for either a complete transformation of the opposition or the formation of a credible opposition that will have a better vision than the current MDC and Zanu PF. A simple example is the congestion on Harare’s roads where the Give Way is no longer a wise tool in regulating traffic in some places as well as the “Give way to Traffic on your Right” rule at a busy intersection or broken down robot does not benefit anyone. In South Africa they have a simple rule where the right of way is to whoever got to the intersection first followed by whoever was next and so on. Such changes can only be brought about by those who have seen them at work or those who have sought to solve problems based on foreign practices so the diasporians are Zimbabwe’ best assets at the present moment. Diasporians should get involved, in whatever way possible, with the current political institutions for the purposes of bringing positive change.

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    Petros James 7 years ago

    I wonder if the writer is in Zimbabwe or is Zimbabwean at heart. Adversity creates opportunity to shine in gross darkness. UDI sanctions on Rhodesia propelled industrialization. Ian Smith was able to hold on because he had his ilk behind him through thick and thin. Progressive thinking Zimbabweans are busy crafting ways to make Zimbabwe tick for themselves; arm chair analysts like the writer have no part in a brighter, prosperous Zimbabwe because there is no virtue in negativity. Many diasporans who have visited Zimbabwe have been shocked to discover the truth about misinformation and disinformation spewed in the western media. Some are even scared to come back because they have been left so far behind. A professional Zimbabwean in the diaspora would seek to exploit the abundant opportunities that exist because of the so-called “lost decade”. The ones that expect to have a red carpet reception, an ideal Zimbabwe flowing with milk and honey, may as well stay put. If you were in Zimbabwe you would have witnessed an unprecedented patriotic fervour that cannot be explained by political affiliation but by a realization that Zimbabwe becomes what we want it to be through our individual and collective efforts whereby everything Zimbabwean must be promoted. Increasingly, and welcomingly so, Zimbabweans are becoming proud of their country, and they will share in its glory and its shame. Zimbabweans are now questioning the origin of products, why we cannot manufacture the same, and they would rather buy Zimbabwe products and services: not because of the “Buy Zimbabwe” campaign, by the way. Smell the coffee!

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    Strive Masiwa is not a Zanoid. He has the intelligence and integrity to go the right thing

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      nesbert majoni 7 years ago

      But don’t forget that for him to be living in a foreign land there is more to it than what meets the eye. ZANU pf s’ attitude, corruption and nepotism are the main reason why Zombos left the country. In Zimbabwe even if you are over qualified for a certain job they would rather employ a donkey bcoz it supports ZANU pf. So why waste yo tym in a country like that when diaspora is calling.

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    Macon Pane 7 years ago

    Facts is facts, and the diaspora can see them plainly. Ask yourself why the ZANUPF apologists among the diaspora are still living abroad and not rushing home. Seriously, ask yourself why.

    They were smart enough to leave when they did, and they know that without eliminating ZANUPF’s self-interest, dishonesty, and continued rape of the nation, there will be no foreign investment. And, without foreign investment, what will the diaspora do when they return… hawk phone cards on the corner?

    With ZANUPF at the helm, the ship continues to flounder and sink. The Chinese smile.

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    Charles Chamunorwa 7 years ago

    When we grew up during the Rhodesian error we had adequate utilities and infrastructure up to the early days of independence. Because of Zanu pf’s mismanagement all those utilities and infrastructure are now history. It will be difficult for us to adjust to use bush toilets, drink borehole water, drive in potholes etc Where will a professionally registered engineer, architect, quantity surveyor to name a few professionals, work in Zimbabwe? There is no development. Some of us can not shout a single Zanu pf slogan and as usual if you cannot shout a slogan there is nothing for you. Ask the guy who wanted to build a filling station in mbare.

    Gushungo destroyed our motherland.

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    Mafuta 7 years ago

    Can’t accomodate them, what gagging rubbish. Doesn’t dare accomodate them is more like. The reason ZANU trashed the economy is because a strong economy means empowered people, God-Bob forfend. Yeah, he wants them out forever. Let them come back, even with lots of funding, and paranoid PF will strangle any business they attempt. Remember that Bechtel offered to build a water pipeline from Kariba to Bulawayo with all Zim Labor and all donated foreign funding, but the PafF told them to bug off because, you know, a water-sufficient Bulawayo would be an empowered Bulawayo. Forbid.