Tanonoka Joseph Whande – Zimbabwe must give better recognition to those in the Diaspora

Tanonoka Joseph Whande
Monday April 29th, 2013

South African banks have been releasing very interesting financial figures which indicate the financial advantages Zimbabwe the country is enjoying due to its citizens who are either economically or politically marooned in South Africa.

The issue of those in the Diaspora being allowed to vote and to participate in electoral proceedings is an underestimated necessity.

At first, the ZANU-PF government didn’t want to hear about it because they suspected that those who are in the Diaspora, as political or economic refugees, had been driven out of Zimbabwe by ZANU-PF’s violence, lack of jobs and bad policies.

That being the fact, they feared that, if given the chance, those in the Diaspora would certainly cast votes against ZANU-PF.

So many times we heard Robert Mugabe pouring scorn on those economic refugees working in the UK, Europe, US, Australia and elsewhere, saying that they left home so as to wash white people’s behinds in nursing homes overseas.

There is no question that Mugabe and his party viewed Zimbabwe’s economic refugees with disgust and would not entertain any thought of putting in place a system to enable the Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to vote.

But as more and more Zimbabweans left home, something started happening as those same Zimbabweans started remitting millions and millions of foreign currency into financially strapped Zimbabwe, a country that was literally broke and had resorted to printing worthless pieces of paper as a way of camouflaging the economic crisis bedevilling the country.

Many Bureaux de Change were opened to cater for the growing number of remittances from Zimbabweans abroad.

I remember that around 2004, RBZ governor Gideon Gono was squandering money overseas where he went to promote his financial tuck-shop called Homelink. It failed as Diasporians stuck with established money transfer companies, such as Western Union.

I cannot imagine how relatives back home in Zimbabwe would have survived during the draught and during those times when Mugabe, then as now, denied food to some people because they were suspected to be sympathetic to the MDC.

People in the Diaspora saved their kin in Zimbabwe and, painfully, the money they were remitting was also finding its way into government and ZANU-PF coffers.

Even the nascent MDC tremendously benefitted financially from Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.

But looking at how these political parties treated Zimbabweans in the Diaspora in their new Constitution will show how unthankful and conniving these politicians are.

They barred Diasporians from voting and refused to put in place a system that would have made it possible for them to vote from wherever they are.

In March, just before the referendum over the constitution, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) secretariat ruled that “Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora should be allowed to vote in the referendum and forthcoming elections”.

The ACHPR said that the State (Zimbabwe) must “provide all eligible voters…the same voting facilities it affords to Zimbabweans working abroad in the service of the government and that the respondent State takes measures to give effect to its obligations under the African Charter in accordance with Article 1 of the African Charter, including in areas of free participation in the government”.

It never happened and the MDC, not surprisingly, agreed with ZANU-PF on the issue to deny citizens abroad their right to vote.

Diasporians are being used by both parties. Now “the government is said to be ‘happy’ with a Diaspora that continues remitting millions to Zimbabwe, because of the ongoing weak state of the national economy” as “recent figures from South Africa have suggested that roughly $600 million is being remitted to Zimbabwe annually from the Diaspora”.

South Africa’s First National Bank released information to the effect that Zimbabweans living and working in South Africa remit more that 6.7 billion Rands to Zimbabwe.

“We are not encouraging the Diaspora to come home because once you are back home you are not very valuable,” Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told a Zimbabwe investment conference held in South Africa earlier this month. “We’d prefer a strong Diaspora that will help this country to develop either by way of remittances or investment.”

And yet they deny us the right to vote and other services that we deserve as citizens of Zimbabwe living abroad. It is ironic that our absence from Zimbabwe makes Zimbabwe financially stronger through the money we send back home to our families yet we are not extended those basic human rights such as voting.

The heart of the matter is that the government of Zimbabwe has to acknowledge the importance and role played by those, for whatever reason, are in the Diaspora. Whether they are political or economic refugees, Zimbabweans everywhere do not forget their country and relatives and send something home all the time.

Apart from the large financial contributions realised from those in the Diaspora, it is the responsibility of any government to take care of its citizens wherever they are but ZANU-PF has always taken care of only those who support it.

Diasporians are Zimbabwean first and their political affiliation should not be used to deny them protection and services by their own government.

That is childish and stupid…but what can you expect from Mugabe and his illiterate morons in ZANU-PF.

Now, figures don’t lie. Money is flowing in and they want it.

Our government has always known of the financial muscle the Diasporians had judging by the way they tried to cash in through opening bureaux de changes outlets and even attempting to set up money transfer outlets to rival Moneygram and Western union.

But the government, particularly ZANU-PF, despised its citizens abroad because of silly political paranoia but the figures now can no longer be ignored.

At first, the government did not want the Diasporas to vote or return home fearing that they would swing the elections against ZANU-PF.

Now the same government does not want the Diasporas to vote or return home because they are remitting more than US $600 million home every year.

So who is using us? Our own government or those foreigners whose white behinds we are wiping in the nursing homes every day.

If Zimbabweans in South Africa alone can remit to Zimbabwe more than US $600 million every year, think of those in the US, in the UK, in Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

It is difficult to comprehend how the MDC capitulated on the denying of Zimbabweans of their rights. It is truly incomprehensible that, in their quest for personal glory, the MDC could consider using people’s rights as quid pro quo for favours that hardly benefit the nation.

But here we are. Both the MDC and ZANU-PF want our money but they won’t let us vote for either one of them.

Both the MDC and ZANU-PF, along with their leaders, must be ashamed of themselves!

The abuse, the sidelining and the neglect of those in the Diaspora must stop before we go any further. The MDC, which by far benefits more from those in the Diaspora, must act on this issue soon after their disgusting betrayal of sacrificing human rights for their short-sighted political chess games.

I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Monday April 29th, 2013.

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9 Responsesto “Tanonoka Joseph Whande – Zimbabwe must give better recognition to those in the Diaspora”

  1. choga says:

    Iwe Hwande ini i am Diaspora but will vote Zanu any day. I do not need any special treatment but prefer the same treatment as my fellow Zimbabwean in Zimbabwe. I am a professional through and through, so what is your beef…….

    • Tanonoka Joseph Whande says:

      Choga, that is pricisely what i am asking for. You cannot vote for ZANU-PF unless you are working at an embassy or something like that. My issue is that our government should treat us the same because we are all trying to do something for our country. I just dont like the discrimination that now seems to have been constitutionalised. We are not far from each on this, believe me.

  2. Chimbwido Warvet says:

    Nhai comrade Whande, chimbonditaurira kuti ndicho chii ichi chaunonyora mwanawamai? Hausikuda kuenda kumusha kani? Wanakirwaka nema gero echitsvanaka nana ndonoleveleka dumbu? Of course, you should be quite happy there because I am fully aware they have beautiful girls there. I have stayed for two years, both in Gaborone and Francistown representing my political party in the early 70s and it was nice, boy. It should be great at present.

    • Tanonoka Joseph Whande says:

      ChimWar!!! Siyana nezvavasikana izvo! But thanks for admitting your eyes strayed once in a while. But my point my brother is that those in the diaspora are getting a raw deal. This is not to mean I dont want to come home. Matter of fact Im in the process of leaving as it is. But from wherever I maybe, Botswana or Zimbabwe, I feel that there are just too many Zimbabweans abroad who must access the services of their government and I am very unhappy that we had to single out those in the Diaspora even in our constitution. Discrimination is never right.
      As for the women, are you telling me our women are not as good looking? Haaa!!!!!

  3. Let’s not overstate the contribution of diasporans to Zimbabwe since 2002 as this article does. What is this demand for recognition? A lot is said about how diasporans kept the country going but has anyone actually done a comprehensive analysis of their contribution over the last 11 years?

    • Tanonoka Joseph Whande says:

      Nothing is being overstated. Every government has a responsibility to protect and serve its citizens regardless of where they are. I mention those figures to show that those in the diaspora also contribute to national coffers like those at home. And it was wrong to put such a discriminatory law in the constitution especially in this day and age when travel is so easy and frequent. The demand for recognition is that, as a Zimbabwean citizen, my government owes me services from wherever I am. Full stop. If you want to do the study of how much diasporians contributed, please do us the farvour. My comments are based on the financial statements made public by banks that are handling these remittances every year so this is fact.

      • Apologies I’m only seeing your response now. The figures you mentioned are research estimates of informal transfers, not facts and are from one bank in one country. FNB only launched their remittance service last month and is to yet publish results of initial uptake of the service. Your government is failing to provide basic services at home yet you demand services you are owed without caring to ask how this service debt is going to be funded? Maybe allow the government to get the basics right first? Even the IMF, World Bank and other international lenders recognize this. Also, you’re not the first Zimbabwean diasporans, look to those who were abroad pre-independence and returned in the 1980′s.

  4. Choga says:

    Its not about how much contribution but contribution nonetheless. We all bring to the table according to our ability. Thats how life is. Isu veDiaspora nevari kumusha…. Why can we not work for the benefit of the country, those who succeed in the process will pay more taxes and we all benefit.

    I help my extended family provide food and without me it would be very difficult for them… I do not sing about that contribution but in my book that is phenomenal. Someone is working providing passports at the passport office again that is phenomenal to me….. My two cents

    • Tano Joseph Whande says:

      Choga, you are right. My issue is that a government must not discriminate against its own citizens. This has nothing to do with money coz a government is for us all, whether employed or not; whether rich or poor.

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