The Diaspora: a resource for national reconstruction

Moreblessing Mwamuka runs a whole ward in a United Kingdom hospital and some of the best consulting doctors at this health institution, like her, are from Zimbabwe.

This goes for many other hospitals in the UK – most of the experienced and much-valued health experts are from the developing world and Zimbabweans are found in huge numbers. The energy sector as well has many Zimbabwean technicians and engineers who left their country at the height of the political and economic crisis to seek greener pastures. Scattered across the divide, Zimbabweans are found excelling in almost every sector in the UK – be it banking, teaching or care. The same scenario is repeated in some of the worlds major cities like Washington D.C., New York, Canberra, Johannesburg and many others.

Rebuilding the country

Now as Zimbabwe seeks to rebuild following almost a decade of decay, the newly formed Development Foundation of Zimbabwe (DFZ) aims to tap into the rich Diaspora community to develop ways through which those living outside the country can help rebuild their country.

Following the formation of the government of national unity, Zimbabwe has registered some progress over the past 18 months, yet a combination of internal and external factors has hindered economic recovery. Hence a more creative and robust approach is needed to support national development.

A product of a Zimbabwe Diaspora roundtable discussion hosted by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in December 2009 in Cape Town, the DFZ will to this end be hosting a conference in Victoria Falls to start a conversation about how Zimbabweans abroad can be mobilised to aid in their countrys economic and social development.

The conference, which would be held from 16-18 December, will bring together representatives of the Diaspora community face to face with senior government officials as they seek to find common ground on what role the Diaspora can play in reconstructing their country.

DFZ director, Nokwazi Moyo, says this gathering will be the first in a series of forums that will systematically consider ways in which those living outside Zimbabwe, and key players within the country, can work together. This initiative will facilitate a more inclusive discussion on national reconstruction that incorporates the contributions of government, the private sector and civil society.

He says the working conference will focus on three sectors: the economy, social and human development, and human rights and governance. The conference aims to, among other things, facilitate the formation of an institutional framework that will support effective contributions to and participation in economic recovery by Zimbabweans living abroad, provide a platform for opinion leaders and implementers to discuss the role of the Diaspora.

A clear agenda

It also seek to define mechanisms, processes and policies that will allow government, business, civil society and other sectors to make optimal use of the vast number of Zimbabweans living abroad to contribute to national recovery and long-term development.

The DFZ believes that an economic recovery strategy that emphasises the return of skills must have a clear agenda, said Moyo. The call for Zimbabweans to return home must be accompanied by appropriate policies to absorb these skills through a range of government programmes, alongside creative solutions developed by those in the Diaspora. It is vital to underscore the point that in an age of technological advancement returning home can take various forms beyond the physical movement of persons.

Returning home can be through the Diaspora deploying their financial investments in the home market, adds Moyo.

The Zimbabwean taxpayer invested heavily in training the now dispersed human capital or broad array of skills. This remains Zimbabwe’s wealthiest resource as the country rebuilds and consolidates. The country wishes to harvest this resource and the dispersed human capital wishes to contribute to their homeland, says Moyo.

The idea of a multiple partnership including Zimbabwean private sector ; the inclusive government in all its parts and the Zimbabwean social, economic entrepreneurs based outside the country is key to real sustainable development the organization seeks to promote, says Moyo.

He adds that there is much more to the Zimbabwean Diaspora than political party differences . The Diaspora is not a unitary entity in favour of or against either section of the Inclusive government. It is a Kaleidoscope of experiences, narratives and states of being. This reality must be presented at the Conference. There are human, social and economic rights activists; refugees; Asylum seekers; hardnosed bureaucrats in international organizations; entrepreneurs engaged in wealth creation and professionals working for global firms. The sum-total of these experiences need to be harnessed.

The Diaspora experience, says Moyo, has enskilled many and also de-skilled as many. Teachers , nurses and other professionals have been forced into menial jobs in order to survive. Yet other citizens have furthered their education whilst outside the country.

The organization hopes these groups may wish to make voluntary or temporary, virtual or permanent returns to help shore up the skills base in the Zimbabwean public service or other sectors of the economy.

The DFZ realizes that this patriotic desire is not tied to partisan political interests but the love for Zimbabwe and the belief in her potential to be a truly great African nation and global icon, says Moyo.

For more information on the conference please visit the DFZ website:

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