THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will within the next two months embark on a full campaign to have the 3,4 million Zimbabweans outside the country repatriate their money through officia
l channels to help ease foreign currency shortage in the country.
Initially money repatriated from Zimbabweans living abroad would eventually find its way to the black market, but now the central bank wants the immigrants to have confidence in the official banking system.
The RBZ has set up a committee headed by economic commentator and accountant Eric Bloch to help facilitate the repatriation of foreign currency by locals abroad.
According to the central bank’s “Foreign Currency Auctions Advisory board sub-committtee on facilitation of fund repatriations to Zimbabwe by Zimbabweans abroad”, of the many Zimbabweans living abroad, South Africa and the United Kingdom had the highest number of migrants.
According to the committee’s documents, there are 1,1 million Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom, 1,2 million in South Africa, and 100 000 in the United States and Canada.
In Australia the committee expects that there are at least 150 000, while it estimates that there are 300 000 Zimbabweans living in Europe, mainly in France and Germany but with the exception of Britain.
Within the Southern African Development Community, which includes Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, DRC, Namibia and Mozambique, the committee says there are at least 450 000 Zimbabweans.
Central bank governor Gideon Gono on Tuesday said it was necessary for Zimbabweans living abroad to invest back home but he said this was dependent on mutual trust between non-resident locals and the nation at large.
“We need to tap from Zimbabweans living in the diaspora. They want to invest, they owe it to us but we also owe it to them that they come and invest back home,” he said.
Since 1999, Zimbabwe has been experiencing a major human capital flight, a trend that was largely attributed to the serious economic meltdown and massive retrenchments which affected local industry.
The situation was further compounded by political instability which led to violence that eventually persuaded individuals to leave the country.
Bloch said a programme to entice locals living outside the country to remit their proceeds through the normal banking channels was being assessed.
“A programme is being devised which will result within the next two months in us campaigning to have three million Zimbabweans living outside channeling their money through the normal banking system,” Bloch said.
“This will result in Zimbabweans outside the country being incentivised to invest back home. We will not be concerned about their legal status but we will need their confidence to invest back home without being subjected to issues such as double taxation.”
He said of the 1,1 million living in the UK only 290 000 were living there officially, while in South Africa the figure stood at only 300 000.