By James Muonwa
THE government has approved the concept paper on the production of an updated Zimbabwe Diaspora Policy (ZDP) that aims to harness social and economic contributions of locals living abroad, Diaspora voting, and dual citizenship.
The blueprint also seeks to protect and promote the interests and rights of Zimbabwe living and working in the Diaspora, building on the successes of the existing policy crafted in 2016.
In a letter addressed to Paul Matsvai, chief executive of Zimbabwe Diaspora Nation Building Initiative, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade official only identified as B. Mutetwa, representing permanent secretary James Manzou, said there is a need to expedite consultative meetings to get stakeholders views by the September deadline in light of Covid-19 lockdown disruptions.
As part of the consultative process, the strategy will involve holding workshops with Zimbabweans living in at least four countries of destination with large numbers of local citizens.
Wrote Mutetwa, “As indicated during your meeting with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Dr D. (David) Musayabana on 4 August 2021, the principals in this Ministry have approved the concept paper on the production of an updated Diaspora Policy.
“Of critical importance is the need to adhere to be stipulated duration for the conduct of consultative processes, which is up to the end of September 2021. Given that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to subsist in most parts of the world that are host to Zimbabwe’s diaspora, virtual platforms to convene consultative meetings will be useful.”
Taking lessons from other countries such as Ethiopia, The Philippines, and Zambia, the proposed updated policy is expected to include opportunities for people in the Diaspora to contribute to national development through investment, trade, knowledge and skills transfer, and philanthropic work.
Areas of investment include financial services, agriculture, mining, tourism, manufacturing, among others.
The document is expected to be drafted and tabled between October and December, before its launch in January next year.
The government says the advent of the Second Republic led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the thrust on diaspora engagement has significantly shifted and the presidium is calling on locals to invest back home to develop the economy.
According to the concept paper, the current diaspora policy is silent on the aspirations of the diaspora population and makes reference to institutions that were abolished after the coming of the new government, hence the need for its review.
“The government recognises that international migration has become an established feature of contemporary social and economic development agenda. The key benefits of migration for countries of origin, if properly managed, include the investments by the diaspora communities into their homeland and the positive impact of remittances on foreign currency inflows, knowledge and skills transfer when migrants return home on a temporary or permanent basis, increased levels of indigenous entrepreneurship through new opportunities in the private sector by those in the diaspora,” reads the concept document gleaned by NewZimbabwe.com.
The new policy is also expected to address issues such as dual citizenship, diaspora vote, and safeguarding their rights.
The revamp of the ZDP is in line with Section 708 of the National Development Strategy (NDS 1) 2021-2025. It also forms part of the country’s foreign policy thrust anchored on rapprochement, engagement, and re-engagement and identifies aggressive economic diplomacy as a key pillar.