Tanonoka Joseph Whande – Zimbabwe needs to attract back home its professionals in the Diaspora

Tanonoka Joseph Whande
Thursday, November 15th, 2012.

Sometimes I just don’t know what to say about the MDC-T and its leadership. For four years, they have always been not only humiliated but beaten up, arrested and with some members actually getting killed.

A few days ago, the Police Band refused to play the national anthem at a function presided over by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, saying that the national anthem could not be played in the absence of Robert Mugabe.

The uniformed fools do not even know that the national anthem, like the flag, is representative of the nation and its people not an individual.

But such are the half-baked bootlickers in ZANU-PF.

All in all, I believe that Tsvangirai deserves some praise for sticking it out as much as he has done. Determination seems to be his biggest asset and I would have hoped that he surrounds himself with people you give him proper advice, not those who tell him just those things he wants to hear.

Who are Tsvangirai’s advisors, I wonder?

I find it insane that the MDC-T has put together an entourage to literally go around the world to ask Zimbabwean economic refugees to go home and vote.

Really, how silly can we get?

How much would such votes cost each individual and is the MDC, let alone any political party in Zimbabwe, really worth it?

And just where is the money for such unnecessary globe-trotting coming from and can’t it be put to better use within the country where the party should really be campaigning?

Shouldn’t more effort be spent on fighting for the installation of the right political climate to hold such elections instead of running around the world coaxing people to return home where violence is getting out of hand, with the MDC-T unable to do anything about it?

Economic refugees are out there because they have access to something they cannot get back home. After almost four years in government, the MDC, with its coalition partners, has failed to improve the economic situation well enough to attract investors, create more jobs and instil a sense of confidence even among its own citizens at home.

The government has failed to create the kind of jobs that would attract Zimbabweans to return home and, on top of it all, it has failed to stop the violence and stability that would make people feel safe. Unless such assuarances are met or until much more effort is given towards them, many Zimbabweans will opt to remain where they are rather than face the uncertainties at home.

It is not a joke being a refugee; it takes courage to be a refugee, economic or political, and those people are trying to survive and take care of their families, something that a government made up of three political parties has failed to do.

It is without doubt that people in the Diaspora financially propped up the fledgling MDC at its formation. It is equally undisputed that they also assured that their families survived the harsh economic conditions, the draughts, the political blackmail of being denied food aid and the violence in the country.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who will predictably be heading the gravy train into several countries, wants the people in the Diaspora to fly back into Zimbabwe, cast their vote and then fly out back to work wherever they are. Is this realistic?

Can more than three million Zimbabweans in the Diaspora take leave from work at the same time around the world and fly or drive into Zimbabwe on an agreed specific date, cast their ballots and return to their jobs in unison? Surely, he does not expect them to stay home jobless when they have jobs outside the country? Is that what he is expecting to see?

Calculate into this scenario the acrimonious process of registering to vote in out of town constituencies.

Of interest is how much money Tsvangirai and his entourage will be spending on these trips and what they are offering in return. If the MDC-T really wanted to recognise the rights of the Zimbabwean Diaspora, why did they not stand their ground and demand that all Zimbabweans have the right to access a ballot paper and vote from wherever they are? But instead, the MDC-T traded the voting rights of the Diasporians right for something only the top party brass top can enjoy at the expense of the Diaspora voters.

The MDC-T knowingly agreed to the disfranchising of Zimbabweans outside the country and there are millions in the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and many other countries. However, the MDC-T today finds the money to go to those individual countries to urge the people to come home and vote for them.

Not all Zimbabweans abroad are MDC supporters.

Is Tsvangirai really burning to see people in the Diaspora voting or he is just going out there to ask for money again from those outside the country because, honestly, this is not possible practically, mathematically and financially.

It does not even make sense.

Meanwhile, Tsvangirai is unable to hold any rallies freely in Zimbabwe without arm-twisting the courts to allow him to hold a rally here and there. He cannot even protect any of his supporters, officials, cabinet ministers and Zimbabweans in general but is asking Diasporans, some of whom are at great risk upon return, to venture into the country to cast a ballot for him with no safeguards for the entire voting population as if what happened to his supporters during the 2008 elections is of no consequence.

Zimbabweans deserve better consideration than this and I hope the MDC does not continue to take people too much for granted.

The heart of the matter is that, while I concede that home is best, it does noone any good to go home and just sit jobless while Chipangano waits for you by the gate. It does no good to just be together for the sake of being together and starve together after being beaten up for no other reason than supporting a political party of one’s choice.

Granted, it is our country and we must fight for the removal of such negatives but those who have refused to be pulled back, those who have found to be assets elsewhere would prefer the indignity of being in the Diaspora to exposing themselves to violent uncertainties in their motherland, which is very unfortunate indeed because Zimbabweans are needed back home to develop their country.

Just imagine the Zimbabwean professionals who are helping in the running of countries like South Africa, Botswana and other countries and institutions, like the World Bank, and you appreciate how much Zimbabwe has worked to educate her children.

But the atmosphere at home prohibits these professionals from coming home. They want to be safe; they want their children to go to good schools and they want peace, safety and protection by their government. 

As one reader told a Zimbabwean daily, “Campaign at home and leave those Diasporans to deal with the pressures of living away from home. Morgan should campaign here. Vakomana, ndiani ari kuronga zvisina basa so?”

Why is the MDC campaigning among people whose ineligibility to vote they supported?

This venture into the Diaspora to court votes among non-voters is just a ploy to go shopping; Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC-T should be campaigning at home, campaigning for cessation of violence, for law and order, safety, freedom and for those things that can help our nation rise again.

They should work hard to attract their citizens back because other countries have taken advantage and are holding on to our professionals because our politicians cannot offer their own citizens security and a good enough atmosphere to live and work in.

Zimbabwe needs to attract back home its professionals in the Diaspora and this must start with political incentives such as the cessation of violence, rule of law, human rights, law and order, safety and individual freedom.

We cannot attract foreign investors without attracting our own professionals back because the sheer number of our citizens outside the country tells a negative story about us, our politics and our nation.

I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Thursday, November 15th, 2012.

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