Marked rise in diaspora remittances into Zimbabwe doesn’t signal economic growth but increased poverty

Indeed, clichés are overused, and usually would have long lost their original context and meaning - however, there are some that still hold true today as they did when they were initially coined.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana


One of those that easily comes to mind is – “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out”.

Overused, yes – accurate, absolutely!

And, I seriously doubt there can ever be a more apt description of the denotation behind the reported rise in diaspora remittances into Zimbabwe’s economy – which were said to have reached US$1,4 billion in 2021, from US$1 billion the previous year.

For anyone, especially an economist, to suggest this signals growth of the country’s economy – as has been widely reported, mainly in state-controlled media – is nothing short of a foolish attempt at stretching the limits of truth.

Is foreign currency entering our country a bad thing – more so, when there is a marked increase in the amounts?

Certainly not!

Indeed, there are some in the diaspora who are sending money back home to invest in the economy, and for the construction of their private properties.

Any money coming into anyone’s pockets is surely a wonderful thing – as long as this is done above board and honestly – even if it is through begging, since that can be used to procure much needed necessities for the good of not only the beggar, but also the shop from which he purchases his food.

This is exactly what we are witnessing in Zimbabwe, as far as diaspora remittances are concerned.

This is certainly not money that is entering Zimbabwe’s coffers via exports of any goods and services – but, mostly as a result of severely impoverished Zimbabweans, who now depend on their friends and families earning a living in foreign lands, for their survival in a country that has been reduced into a disgraceful basket case by the ruling elite.

Is there any other way of packaging, doctoring, or even spinning such a brazen unadulterated truth?

The ever-elongating queues at various money transfer agents across the breadth and width of the nation say it all – more than any words can.

In fact, there are more Zimbabweans to be seen at money transfer agents, than banks – since they have nothing saved up, and do not even earn a salary.

Furthermore, it is no longer surprising to learn of a new money transfer players establishing operations in the country, nearly every few months or so!

Why would that be surprising at all – when over half (about 7.9 million) Zimbabweans live in extreme poverty (on less than US$1.90 a day), roughly 74% of the population earning less than US$5.50 per day, and poverty affecting 76.3% of Zimbabwean children in rural areas?

Even our esteemed civil servants have the shameful indignity of fitting in very well in the 74% of those earning less than US$5.50 per day – and, one can only imagine how much the rest of us, without any steady formal employment, manage to pocket in a month.

How, then, are we surviving in Zimbabwe?

Obviously, for those fortune enough to have able and willing family and friends in the diaspora, they can to be queueing up outside such agents as World Remit, Money Gram, Mukuru, Western Union, and so many more, for some desperately-needed financial assistance.

Under such difficult circumstances, logic will dictate that – the more poverty-stricken Zimbabweans there are, the more the diaspora remittances.

Therefore, as much as any foreign currency entering Zimbabwe’s economy is most welcome, and will do some good for the country – let no one try to distort the deeper implications of an increase in diaspora remittance inflows.

We are a nation of impoverished people – who have been forced into begging for financial assistance from our loved ones in foreign lands, as a result of a ruling elite that believes are the only ones divinely entitled to a comfortable living, who have cruelly and selfishly looted the country’s vast resources for their own aggrandizement.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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