Zimbabwe Hosts First Diaspora Conference

The conference is the first in a series of high profile meetings which will consider ways in which the Diaspora and key players within Zimbabwe can work together to promote development. An estimated 4.5 million Zimbabweans live outside the country the majority of them in South Africa.

Delegates to the conference, have been drawn from Australia, Botswana, Ethiopia, The Netherlands, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States. They also include representatives of the country’s labour movement, opinion leaders from the key political formations, religious leaders and Zimbabwean professionals some whom are considering investing in Zimbabwe or returning home.

The theme of the conference which takes place from the 16 to 18 December is “Engaging the Diaspora toward Zimbabwe’s Economic Reconstruction”. The conference will chart a process of engaging the inclusive government and stakeholders in selected key sectors, to explore ways in which the skills of the Diaspora can be harnessed.

Conference organisers, Development Foundation for Zimbabwe (DFZ) said the huge developmental potential of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora remained largely untapped. DFZ is a non-political, non-profit organisation set up by Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.

DFZ Executive Director, Nokwazi Moyo said a conscious decision had been made to hold the conference in Zimbabwe to allow for broader participation by key actors within the inclusive government.

“There are several individuals that may feel afraid, threatened or otherwise constrained to return home for this conference, the restrictions on sections of the government to travel to certain countries, the sheer expense of doing so, justifies that the conversation forming the basis of this evolving partnership should take place on home soil closer to both the problems and opportunities,” Moyo said in a statement.

He said the inclusion of Zimbabwe’s Diaspora community in any national dialogue was critical to the promotion of national cohesion and the success of any national projects.

He stressed that DFZ was not advocating a mass return to Zimbabwe adding “It is vital to underscore the point that in an age of technological advancement ‘returning home’ can take various forms beyond the physical movement of persons. ‘Returning home’ can be through the Diaspora deploying their financial investments in the home market. The DFZ is opening up dialogue between all key stakeholders to devise ways and means of capitalising on this important resource represented by the Diaspora.”

He said one of the objectives of the conference is to ensure that the Zimbabwe government and other stakeholders’ engagement with the Zimbabwean Diaspora is institutionalised within a coherent policy framework.

“We hope to be able to strengthen Zimbabwe Diaspora networks and increase their ability to contribute towards comprehensive national recovery and development. We are also keen to engage co-operating partners, all stakeholders and relevant institutions on supporting Zimbabweans recovery and development,” said Moyo.

During the conference there will be special sessions on economic development and investment, social services, reconstruction and other key areas such as citizenship, property rights and migration.