Conrad Mwanawashe and Tinashe Makichi
ZIMBABWE has unveiled a draft National Diaspora Policy that will put in place mechanisms and an institutional framework to receive diaspora remittances aimed at supporting targeted productive ventures in the country. Last year, diaspora remittances amounted to over $1.8 billion which contributed about 15 percent to the Gross Domestic Product.
The crafting of the National Diaspora Policy is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Macro Economic Planning and Investment Promotion in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration.
Launching the draft policy on Friday, Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister Obert Mpofu said the policy is expected to put in place institutional framework, measures and strategies that ensure effective participation of Zimbabweans in the diaspora in national development.
“Once the diaspora policy is in place, the country will be able to give incentives to the diaspora community, which move I’m convinced will result in increased investment inflows. We’re pleased to have the International Organisation for Migration who have vast experience in the development of such policies and have also assisted the implementation of such policies at a global level,” said Minister Mpofu.
The government recognises the immense contribution of the Zimbabwean Diaspora towards national development.
The National Diaspora Policy seeks to provide a comprehensive framework for harnessing the immense contribution of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora as well as the protection of citizens outside the country.
Some of the objectives of the policy include developing mechanisms for dialogue and partnership with Zimbabweans abroad, establishing the necessary institutional mechanism for co-ordination and administration of issues affecting Zimbabweans abroad. The Office of the President and Cabinet will be responsible for providing oversight, monitoring and evaluation in the implementation of the policy.
The government will establish and National Diaspora Unit in the Ministry of Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion in order to develop diaspora targeted packages to direct remittances towards productive ventures in the country.
Every government ministry will be given a role in the implementation of the policy. It is currently estimated that between 500,000 and three million Zimbabweans are residing in the diaspora and there has been growing recognition that migration if managed properly can positively contribute towards national development.
Against this background, international migration is now high on the global, regional and national policy agendas. According to the IOM, in recent years diaspora or expatriate communities have received increasing policy attention as part of the international discourse on international migration and development.
There is also growing recognition that diaspora resources can be leveraged to facilitate increased trade, investment, technology, skills, and cultural linkages between different countries. Macro Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Permanent Secretary Desire Sibanda said the National Diaspora Policy is expected to play an important role in harnessing resources needed for economic revival.
He said $1.8 billion currently being remitted is not enough compared to the Zimbabwean population currently living in the diaspora. “The diaspora policy is expected to increase diaspora remittances because its main thrust is to start by developing trust between the government and the diaspora community and then focus on availing incentives to those who wish to invest back home.
“The current remittances aren’t enough considering the diaspora population at the moment,” said Sibanda. He said the diaspora should also focus on investments in productive sectors of the economy rather than setting up properties as investments. Zimbabweans living in the diaspora who were present at the launch said the policy should enhance their contributions including social inclusion and integration of these communities to allow the members to reach their full potential.
Drug International Limited Representative Africa, Phillip Chabata one of the participants from the diaspora community said there should be trust between the government and Zimbabweans in the diaspora for the country to reap full benefits of remittances. In order to support the finalisation of the policy the IOM pledged a contribution of $300,000 made possible by the contribution from the IOM Development Fund.
The funding will support diaspora engagement consultative processes in South Africa, Botswana and the United Kingdom. It will also support the establishment of a National Diaspora Co-ordinating Unit within the government, under the Ministry of Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion. Further, IOM will support the operationalisation of the diaspora policy under the funding from the European Development Fund.
IOM pledged to support the government through all the phases of the policy development process as well as its implementation.