By Takudzwa Hope Chasi
Last week I wrote a short article, lamenting the status of Zimbabweans living in the diaspora, as “The Lost or Last Generation”.
In that article – which you can find and read – on www.zimbabwedigitalnews.com – I called on the Zim diaspora to find a way to change the status quo in our country – Zimbabwe. Scroll down for the link.
This, so that we have a chance to return home. I received feedback on that article -plenty of it. Some readers and among the Brawlers community said: “The government must go etc.” Others saying: “There is no hope, when you are dealing with those madharaz.” Still others said: “Let’s leave it to the neighbouring governments (SADC, AU etc) to deal with the evil regime.”
I think these slogans are now an automatic response to the Zimbabwean crisis. I may be guilty for being more hopeful than others in the way that I articulate my opinion. It may be deliberate.
I feel I am quite pessimistic about the current government, but my sense of duty towards Vana Vevhu, keeps me thinking, there must be a way out of this quagmire.
Surely God has not abandoned us. Surely.
Is the Government failing the diaspora
Am I the only one asking this question. You may want to read what the President of the Brawlers had to say at the Brawlers 2019 end of year gala dinner.
The fact is, the government of undermined or cannibalised, in one way or the other, all other sectors of the economy in last 39 years. There is nothing left to speak of.
The current bout of hyper-inflation and the associated maladies are well documented and need no re-hashing. Yet you find that this is the daily occupation and mantra of the opposition parties. I agree that the behaviour of the current crop of officials in Zimbabwe is terrible.
I’d even say their irresponsible behaviour is tantamount to a national security threat.
Good people, we all know the failings of the administration. So what now? I dislike politicians. Yet I am yet to find a good one. I generally dislike politicians because in my view, they do nothing, yet in the democratic model that we experience in most of Africa, they are in control of most things – It is utterly despicable.
Politics has failed us, terribly
From a diaspora-based citizen’s point of view, the example we have at hand right now, of government undermining and cannibalising the economy, is with Minister Joel B Matiza, being involved in scuttling the NRZ-DIDG-Transnet deal, allegedly for his own personal benefit.
This type of behaviour, I think, fundamentally crosses the line to block what in my view, is one real and practical avenue that Zimbabweans still have, to turn the country around.
Now, you tell me a political solution to the above problem. Tendai Biti can froth at the mouth until kingdom come, speechfying about the grand theft. It won’t help. I am not particularly interested anymore in political solutions to the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Have we not tried it all over the last 39 years? Name any political strategy, we have been there, done that. Why not just forget politics for a second, and think differently? Politics has failed us.
The Zim Diaspora Economic Solution
The economy of Zimbabwe currently, is undeniably dependent on the annual $3 billion in remittances from the Zimbabwean diaspora community.The bulk of daily consumer expenditure (food, shelter, transport, clothing) is nearly directly funded by diaspora remittances on a one-to-one basis.
Diaspora is servicing these basic human needs to most Zimbabweans. That is an economic fact.
To paint a real picture of the economic fact above, I’ll tell you the story of my friend Nyasha. She works hard and in five years has built a small consultancy business in South Africa.
On her monthly accumulation, there is a standing cost item, where she goes to Malaicha.com and sends R3000 worth of groceries, and R5000 cash to her mother who is a nurse in Shurugwi.
She uses this money to fund her day to day expenses and fend for Nyasha’s young brother who still needs to finish high school and hopefully soon, the brother will pass and cross the border to start his own life.
This is the story of multitudes upon multitudes of Zimbabweans living in all corners of the world.
We have built up critical mass here in the diaspora. Many have real capability to capacitate to one extent or the other, our Zimbabwean home towns and villages/former schools/clinics.
Sad story of our struggle
Some actually try to do this. But donations, like Nyasha’s monthly remittances, feel like a drop in the ocean. Those surely cannot impact the nation.
But if these individuals in diaspora stop thinking in silos, and “aggregate our efforts”, we can scale the “commanding heights” and take significant bites at the system.
I first heard this idea from an optimistic DIDG Executive Chairperson, Donovan Chimhandamba when they were still working towards getting the NRZ deal two years ago. This is what makes the DIDG Model interesting for me.
Even when they did not like it, the old leadership found that they had to listen to this group of young Zimbabweans.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades and friends, political power is not the point. Economic power is!
Stop trying to fight the politicians over control of Government or Public institutions under control of politicians. These institutions are too politically polluted. No change is going to come from there. Zimbabwe diaspora, stop and think for a second.
Take the water and sewer systems in Harare and make them work. Take Kariba Hydro Power and make it work. Take the agricultural industry and make it work. Take big industry and re-open it and invest in what you know we are good at.
You are doing this work every day, everywhere else in the world already. Where is the problem? India is developing despite the politics. America develops in spite of the politics.
Desperate need for a change of the mindset
Oh, but the first and most predictable response to this call will be: “Ah! How?! When Zanu is in total control of the whole thing?”
When faced with a challenge, denial is the most predictable human response. Sit down and just think past the denial. Clearly the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe confirms, Zanu is not in control of the economy.
It is possible to solve this thing. DIDG was on the verge of cracking the National Railways of Zimbabwe system and such would have set a in an unprecedented move by doubting diaspora who would ignore the politics and soldier on towards economic support of Zimbabwe despite who is in power.
The example and image that is being promulgated by the rogue Minister of Transport JB Matiza misrepresenting government position over the NRZ-DIDG-Transnet deal, and diaspora at large has far reaching consequencesto the economy of Zimbabwe.
Minister doing their best to work against each other
Zimbabwe Transport Minister Joel Biggie Matiza
Instead of increasing diaspora investor confidence, Minister JB Matiza has single handedly erased the gains Prof Mthuli Ncube (Minister of Finance) and Retired Lt General Dr SB Moyo’s efforts to mobilise the diaspora capital base. All the diplomatic missions cannot stand in front of serious diaspora business people and say Zimbabwe is Open for Business.
But it is not helpful when we as diaspora, just sit back, fold our hands and watch. We need to play our part too.
The idea behind the strategy by DIDG is going beyond people like Nyasha, who run a R50million turnover company, in South Africa – but is only able to send a few Rands back home to Mom.
Good people aggregate yourselves, your resources, your skills, your money, and develop a solution to develop the economic space where government is failing or needs help and make it work.
The people whose plight you will be solving, employees, communities, service providers, will not let government pull down a working solution. We already remitting a significant amount of money to Zimbabwe, $3bn to be specific every year.
Why not stop sending it for consumptive purposes, as we are doing now, and use it for sustainable commercial purposes that can then sustain the necessary consumption after value addition.
Let us stop investing in tuck-shops, two rooms at the back of the family home, or selling clothes from the back of the car.
We need a proper collective mindset shift.
The solution is in building aggregated entities with the capabilities of scaling a commanding height, that will leave government with no choice but to partner, rather than seek to milk.
Today they want to derail the Transnet-DIDG-NRZ deal. Tomorrow it may be your business. We need to speak out and say “No More!”.
When we keep quiet, as diaspora, we are saying, it’s ok. Government can keep their Zimbabwe, and we will now be Australians, Englishmen, Americans or South Africans. The government has people who want to develop Zimbabwe, but the likes of Minister JB Matiza stand between the future of Zimbabwe and its citizens for personal gains as reported in the Zimbabwean media.
I think there is a cause. What do you think?
Takudzwa Hope Chasi is Projects Director at Pietas Infrastructure (Pty) Ltd. Cell: +27 76 680 2189
The views expressed do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Zimbabwe Digital News.
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