Published On: Wed, Oct 24th, 2018

EXCLUSIVE: Diaspora, not foreign aid, key to Zimbabwe economic revival

Foreign aid

Foreign aid

by SAVIOUS KWINIKA 
JOHANNESBURG – ZIMBABWE has been encouraged to tap into the expertise of millions of its professionals in the Diaspora to resolve its economic crisis instead of solely relying on foreign aid for revival.

A senior economist pointed out Zimbabwean professionals who already had benefited from the country’s admired education system had gained skills in the Diaspora and were willing to contribute to the reconstruction of the country, hence government should ensure their participation.

Luke Dzipange Zunga, the economic expert, said Zimbabwe had professionals, academics and scholars outside Southern African country eager to contribute.

Zunga said the Zimbabwe Diaspora Development Chamber (ZDDC), which he chairs, had established a research group to assess how the country can increase production based on its people.

“It can be done and we have made overtures to government to give us an ear,” Zunga said in an interview with CAJ News Africa in Johannesburg.

“The issue is that Zimbabwe and other African countries must find a way to stand on their own feet, not looking up to Europe or America or China for their sustainability.”

He said apart from Zimbabwe, African countries could quickly manage their economies if they assisted citizens to engage formal production in such areas as agriculture, mining and manufacturing.

“This must be done in programmes, not isolated individuals. This is what creates products, more wealth and exports to earn more foreign currency,” Zunga said.

ZDDC insists the economic solutions for Zimbabwe and Africa did not lie on the aid from the US, West or China but on locals.

“Global Zimbabwe has spent the Diaspora years researching for answers. The starting point is that Zimbabwe has about 70 000 businesses or equivalent, thus about less half percent at 0.0045 of the population,” Zunga said.

He pointed out most of the enterprises were small and informal.

“The number of businesses cannot carry the nation of 16 million
(Zimbabweans); such to provide enough jobs or support for 16 million population and a viable tax base for government. You cannot have ten people sit in one chair. The correct number of formal businesses should be 5 percent of the population, thus 800 000,” argued Zunga.

He said the country had a deficit of 730 000 formal businesses.

“This is a massive job (disparity) which Zimbabwe must solve. So don’t look to Europe or America. It is for Zimbabweans to solve,” the economist said.

Zunga’s sentiments come as the country battles economic turmoil,
characterised by shortage of the United States dollar, which was adopted after the demise of the Zimbabwean dollar.

He attributed the shortages to insufficient production.

“Without enough dollars in circulation there is no money to buy fuel and basic commodities. The shortages create demand push inflation, prices going up rapidly,” Zunga asserted.

He thus dismissed the notion Zimbabwe was struggling because of sanctions imposed by the West, pointing out other countries in Southern Africa were economically struggling.

“It is therefore not so much of sanctions or sabotage but an underlying economic problem,” the expert said.

In a separate interview, Zimbabwe Communist Party (ZCP) secretary general, Ngqabutho Mabhena, also dismissed notions the West was sabotaging the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

He noted statements from the former British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing, supporting the Zimbabwean government.

Zimbabwe is also set to rejoin the Commonwealth while Finance Minister, Minister Mthuli Ncube, was in London last week.

Mabhena also argued the West had endorsed the manifesto of the ruling ZANU (PF), which is no longer an ultra-leftist populist movement but in favour of free market reforms.

“So, there is no sabotage in our view,” he said.

Mabhena said the government must instead fight corruption, overspending and focus on production.

“We must draw lessons from China on how it deals with corrupt officials. This expenditure by officials is meant to please the political elite at the expense of poor Zimbabweans,” Mabhena added.

“ZANU (PF) has shown through the introduction of new taxes that it is anti poor Zimbabweans. One of the things we must do is to know on who pays the political leadership now deployed at Head Office, tax payers might be bankrolling party leaders. The parliamentary funding might not be enough to maintain ZANU(PF),” said Mabhena.

Mabhena doubted Mnangagwa’s commitment to fighting corruption, with the appointment of a controversial ruling party figure, Ace Lumumba, into a key body.

“So far, (President) Mnangagwa has not shown any appetite of fighting corruption,” he said.

“The appointment of a dubious character in the new Task Force in the Ministry of Finance is an indication that government has no interest in fighting corruption. There are allegations of misuse of funds by Lumumba but government has not investigated him but appointed him into the Ministry of Finance.”

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum (ZDF) chairman South African chapter Sox Chikohwero has travelled to Harare (Zimbabwe) this week to seek audience with president Mnangagwa in order to present their research paper for economic revival.

– CAJ News

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