MANY in the Zimbabwe Diaspora community desire to return home and re-establish their livelihoods. However, they face many challenges in this quest.
The challenges are surmountable, but we tend to amplify them and take them as excuses for disengaging in the affairs of the country which is struggling to provide economic and social viability.
It is understandable that some Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are reluctant to consider returning home because of the amount of effort they have invested in establishing new lives outside of Zimbabwe.
It is not easy immigrating and establishing a new life. It involves a huge amount of sacrifice that is difficult to imagine for those who have not tried it. In some instances, it involves separating from your family, starting from scratch in processes such as being accepted into a society, re-education and reprofessionalisation.
In some instances, some were uneducated and deprofessionalised leading to them working in unskilled, menial occupations. Of course, some have managed to float along, while others have flourished!
In many instances, it is these and other challenges that have bred reluctance among Zimbabweans considering returning home. However, relocating to Zimbabwe is not going to be as difficult as has been the case with immigrating to the Diaspora because the many challenges encountered in the Diaspora will not apply in Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe, the Diaspora community members are already part of that society, therefore integrated, their education and skills are in demand and their investment funds will be critical in reviving the Zimbabwean economy.
Over the years, the Diaspora community has been a lifeline to the Zimbabwean economy. It has provided and sustained livelihoods of many Zimbabweans through remittances. According to the 2014 budget recently announced by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, Zimbabweans sent home money worth $1,6 billion in 2013.
The remittances show that the Diaspora community retains vested interest in the country. The challenge for the government is to harness that vested interest into commitment to relocation and/or investment in Zimbabwe.
Chinamasa must be commended for outlining a few initiatives in his budget targeting the Diaspora community such as issuing Diaspora bonds for small-scale hydro-electric schemes. It is incumbent upon the Diaspora community to respond positively to these efforts by the government.
Many Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are actively seeking to contribute in rebuilding the country and their lives back home, but they do not know where or how to start.
Part of the problem is that the Diaspora community does not make enough effort to explore what it takes to return home, but simply complain about the current economic and political situation. Well, if there is a problem back home, then the responsibility to resolve that problem lies with us.
Nothing is insurmountable, otherwise the wars and serious poverty in our host countries would still be raging if their citizens chose to not resolve their problems!
One of the most attractive incentives with potential to influence the Diaspora community to return home in a more comfortable way is to look for business partners in their respective host countries and then use the indigenisation programme to access business opportunities.
Many will say that it’s a contested programme.
Sure, it is, but it will continue and will influence the future structure of the Zimbabwean economy. If anyone waits on the sidelines, they are likely to remain there forever as other investors, including those who purport to oppose the indigenisation programme, grab all the opportunities. Africa is one of the last economic frontiers in the world. If anyone wants to reap economic benefit, now is the time to position one’s self.
It is only fair that the Diaspora community, after investing so much money in form of remittances, benefits from public opportunities in Zimbabwe. By investing through remittances, the Diaspora has subconsciously sustained an economy that will potentially provide them with future livelihoods.
What Zimbabwe needs now from the Diaspora community is their undivided commitment to seizing opportunities that will build economic wealth and secure livelihoods, especially for their children and future generations. But then the preoccupation sometimes tends to be short-term. The current adults want to reap the full benefits of their sweat, which is understandable, but somewhat unreasonable.
If we, as the current generation can establish a base from which our future generations can benefit, then we would have tasted and enjoyed the benefits of our efforts! Besides, in all our professional endeavours, we are mostly working for our children and the future generation.
It is a tragic dilemma for the Zimbabwean Diaspora community to fail to reap social and economic benefits offered by Zimbabwe owing to failure to deal decisively with surmountable challenges.