The value of Diasporans to the Zim economy

By Ken Mufuka

BROTHER  Minister Patrick Zhuwao made a statement that in seeking for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), we should look first to our own Zimbabweans in the diaspora. He was merely stating an obvious fact. While his proposal is worth looking into, there is a lot of house cleaning that needs to be done. I shall refer to that later.

Since the massive migration of 2 000, diasporans have made numerous attempts to be included in the development future of Zimbabwe.

My supreme brother, Attorney Daniel Molokele in South Africa sponsored an education initiative, whose aim was to match diasporans with schools in Zimbabwe.

Our efforts were rewarded with sneers by ZANU-PF until David Coltart became Minister of Education. As I speak, for example, a rich woman wants me to donate an entire library to a school in Zimbabwe.

After Coltart’s departure, connections with ministry officials were indifferent. Zimbabwe officials are more interested in political affiliations than in simple straightforward developmental goals.

Zhuwao is correct on two fronts. “There is also a belief that FDI comes from the Anglo-Saxon world, it cannot come from India, China and other countries.” This reminds me of the time I visited Chief Nerupiri, as patron of his school. The chief expressed the opinion that blacks don’t give bursaries. I have just received a letter from Doubt Chamhungwe, now a senior in business studies at the University of Zimbabwe, who received the Mufuka Family Bursary while he was in Grade Two.

Zhuwao is also correct in his assessment that diaspora Zimbabweans may be sitting on an estimated US$50 billion in savings which can be invested back home.

Zhuwao is correct on a third platform. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank will give us a run around and are not likely to lend us money in the near term, within the next five-year period.

I first came into contact with the activities of these two predators in the West Indies, 1971-1975. Prime Minister Michael Manley, a brilliant economist educated at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) nationalised British Tate and Lyle sugar plantations. He also quadrupled the taxes of the big four American bauxite companies, raising their taxes from US$25 million to US$200 million.

Within two years, everything that could go wrong went wrong. The British withdrew their support of the Jamaican dollar. It was no longer recognised on the international foreign exchange platform. The British postal system lifted its big brother arrangement. International postal orders were no longer available. Last but not least, the Jamaican dollar fell by 100 percent.

My landlord walked into my apartment and doubled his rent, from US$350 to US$700 overnight. My income was US$750 per month. I left for the United States that month, never to return.

Overnight, the value of his US$200 million revenue inflow was halved. Civil service salaries became unpredictable. Then the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) descended on Jamaica like vultures, ready for the kill.
This is where Zimbabwe is now. Tanzania’s late Julius Nyerere visited my university and spoke to us in this way: “Should we starve our children in order to pay the IMF? Shall we dismiss our workers when our youth are already unemployed?”

Yes sir! The IMF and the WB are the new Shylocks of this world, they want their pound of flesh whether you bleed or not is beside the point.

The Zimbabwe government is in a state of confusion. Either it makes up its mind to go IMF and WB, or it decides to find a third way. With them, one must bend or break. There is no third way for them.

It was Simon Khaya-Moyo who gave the President a new title of supreme orator for his speech at the UN. “Clearly the bullies of this world must have trembled to hear the President speak in their faces about the meaning of humanity,” he boasted with reference to gay rights.

While Zhuwao’s message was well received in London, where Philip Banana attempted to create a platform for FDI, diasporans know that Zimbabwe is giving mixed messages. Khaya-Moyo’s message is that Zimbabwe owns all the gold in Fort Knox, does not need help from bullies.

This article first appeared in the Zim based weekly newspaper the Financial Gazette