Govt mulls Diaspora policy

Kupukile Mlambo

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe deputy governor, Kupukile Mlambo

GOVERNMENT is crafting a comprehensive policy as part of measures and strategies to effectively tap into the lucrative Diaspora remittances which have increased in the recent past, the Financial Gazette’s Companies & Markets (C&M) has learnt.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe deputy governor, Kupukile Mlambo, said this at a recent Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce annual congress held in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
Mlambo said an inter-ministerial team has already visited three countries that have successfully implemented such policies.
These countries are China, India and the Philippines. The purpose of the visits was to study how the countries have implemented such policies.
“Government is developing and implementing a comprehensive national migration management and Diaspora policy,” said Mlambo, adding: “An inter-ministerial team visited India, China and the Philippines to learn how these countries have implemented policies and strategies to coordinate the contribution of the Diaspora in economic and social development.”
The foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into the country have remained subdued, despite the fact that the country has millions of citizens outside the country.
The majority of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora left the country over a decade or so ago to escape a biting economic crisis characterised by world record inflation and high unemployment.
It is understood that between three and four million left the country to seek employment mainly in South Africa and other countries in southern Africa, Europe , the Americas, Canada, Australia and Asia as the economy progressively declined.
Government believes the Diasporans have the potential to become an important class of investors and a vital economic cog not only in resuscitating the ailing economy but in national development.
C&M understands that the Office of the President and Cabinet has already convened an inter-ministerial seminar in Kariba to craft a draft Diaspora policy document where representatives of Diaspora associations participated.
Last month, this newspaper reported that Zimbabweans living abroad brought in over US$1 billion during the 17 months to May this year, bailing out a liquidity-starved economy.
Statistics from the RBZ showed that approximately US$1,2 billion was injected into the economy by Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, enough to fund nearly 40 percent of the country’s budget, pegged at US$3,5 billion for the current year.
International remittances into Zimbabwe increased significantly from the US$1,7 billion recorded last year to US$2,5 billion, representing a 13 percent growth.
This year alone, between January and May 31, Diasporans remitted approximately US$740,6 million.
While the figures may indicate Diasporans’ confidence in the use of formal channels to remit funds, the amount remitted might be much higher given that some funds come into the country through informal channels, especially from Zimbabweans resident in neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Namibia.