MOST Â Zimbabweans in the diaspora, including those in South Africa should venture into manufacturing and services than Â leave home to just seek employment, says South African based Zimbabwean economist and businessman Luke Zunga.
â€˜â€™MyÂ view is that there is a lot of potential in manufacturing to be tapped especially in the area of consumer goods which are flooding the market from countries like China and other countries,â€™â€™ says Zunga who owns and runs an accounting firm C and Z Professional Accountants, which has more than 500 clients, including some big South African companies.
Zunga Â who has written three books on farm invasions in Zimbabwe, strategies on economic growth says Zimbabweans especially those whom have migrated to other countries erroneously believe that being educated Â then finding a job Â is the key to success and economic growth.
â€˜â€™It Â is not about sending people to school, I canÂ give you an example of Â Ghana, which had concentrated on education, where are they in terms of industrialisation, they are far away from being a manufacturing country, where are the Ugandans, which had Makarere University, the Oxford of Africa orÂ should I say the Harvard of Africa but where are the Ugandans, in terms of manufacturing, Zimbabwe above average Â where are they,even South Africa are not getting much success in their drive to educate their citizens,â€˜â€™ says Zunga.
â€˜â€™The problem with Zimbabweans is that they think they know yet they cannot even produce a napkin yet they boast of how educated they are. Everyone is looking for a job and there is not going be enough jobs and thatâ€™s where we clash with the South Africans and they say that we are taking their jobs, Â he says Â adding that it is this realisation that made him start theÂ Zimbabwe Diaspora DevelopmentÂ Chamber project.
According to Zunga after four years of negotiations,Â he is working with the DTI, where THE SA government has agreed to provide about 600 SA citizens and a few Zimbabweans to fund seed money for these upcoming entreprenuers to embark on a manufacturing projects in Randfontein and Dandi in KwaZulu Natal,
Zunga, says the project, which will initially have 78 people in the first phase, to show how well equipping people with machinery as a collective can help industrialization.
â€˜â€™The SA government has agreed to fund its citizens with the seed moneyÂ andÂ the few Zimbabweans involved only have to pay as little as R2 000. Itâ€™s a test case before we go to the Zimbabweans because if we do so now they will have doubts so we want to prove that we can do it
Yes it may sound so big, but for production you donâ€™t need to learn these thing, to learn technology u get the money first to put the machinery which comes manufacture, its like a cellphone there is a machineÂ and you are shown how to to use it, as opposed to profession where u need to interpret,â€™â€™ he explains. Adding that most people who perate machines even right now are ordinary people who are not necessarily educated. Its not a tricky thing butÂ work with 21 researchers all focusing on growing economy, just buy a black man a machine and he will figure out the rest.
On the sticking point of finance, Zunga says if it is easier to do so as a collective to so compared when one is on their own, in the case of sa the govt has agreed to provide seed money once, and once it starts it allow for more fundraising,â€™â€™ he says conceding that getting money even from banks may not be easy for a lot of people, even if they have the ideas.
We will go out on an outreach only after we have started the program with the SA to show that it can work.
Not only will this benefit Zimbabweans in SA but those at home and even replicate the idea.
He also says through such projects will even the governmentÂ in Zimbabwe start to take its citizens in the diaspora seriously as a force toÂ and even remove the suspicion that it is treated with.
â€˜â€™If you are poor no one will listen to you but if youÂ have money we can be kingmakersÂ back home, thatâ€™s why I am not going toÂ start the project here so that people actually see that it works then we can go home and do the same, we have to prove that we are worthy for Zimbabwe as they donâ€™t see our value now,â€™â€™ says Zunga Â who dismisses theÂ widely held view that Â diaspora remittances can make a significant contribution and grow Zimbabweâ€™s economy adding that after 20 years or so Â remittances begin to diminish in value.
â€˜â€™Investment is not sending money home but making investments.â€™
Though Â he admits that even R2 000 may be a lot of money for some Zimbabweans but he believes that chances of gettingÂ money to buy machinery can be found as a collective than for example an individual from a bank. â€˜â€™ You cannot just do it on your own and therefore ifÂ coming together as a groupÂ you can put money together andÂ even findingÂ a market for your goods, you have higher chances as a group than an individual,â€™â€™ he says adding that there is potential in the services sector for economic growth.
The diaspora is going drive the economy of Zimbabwe, no matter what. The Zimbabwean diaspora Â particularly those in SA because of the proximity, its going to start here in SA, states Zunga emphatically, because we can move whatever we manufacture fromÂ here easily and faster.â€™â€™