Hosted by the recently launched Development Foundation for Zimbabwe (DFZ), the conference, dubbed “Engaging Zimbabweans in the Diaspora: Towards economic reconstruction and development”, seeks, among other things, to enhance the quality of the partnership between Diaspora organisations and the government.
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has been at the forefront of urging Diasporans to contribute towards the country’s economic revival.
The multi-stakeholder conference will focus on the economy, social and human development, human rights and governance issues.
It will provide a platform for opinion leaders and implementers to discuss the role of the Diaspora community and define mechanisms, processes and policies that will allow government, business, civil society and other sectors to make optimal use of the vast number of Zimbabweans living abroad to contribute to national recovery and long-term development.
DFZ director Nokwazi Moyo says the conference, the first of its kind, will discuss how the Diaspora community can be harnessed for the greater good of the country, especially now when the country is grappling to recover economically after almost a decade of decay.
Since the formation of the inclusive government last February, Zimbabwe has registered some progress in its recovery efforts, yet a combination of internal and external factors has hindered economic recovery, says Moyo.
“A more creative and robust approach is needed to support national development, hence the conference,” he says. “The DFZ believes that the Zimbabwean Diaspora community needs to play an active role in promoting national reconstruction and cohesion.”
An estimated three to 4,5 million Zimbabweans are said to be living abroad, most of them in South Africa.
“These numbers alone underline the scale of the contribution that they can make towards the national project,” said Moyo. “Many Zimbabweans in the Diaspora understand that their role extends far beyond sending remittances for household upkeep. Supporting national development includes investing in business, making social remittances in the knowledge economy, influencing policies that support economic recovery and engaging in various forms of human capacity development for fellow Zimbabweans.”
He added: “The Zimbabwean taxpayer invested heavily in training the now dispersed human capital or broad array of skills. This remains Zimbabwe’s wealthiest resource as the country rebuilds and consolidates. The country wishes to harvest this resource and the dispersed human capital wishes to contribute to their homeland,” adds Moyo. “And the idea of a multiple partnership including the private sector; the inclusive government in all its parts and the Zimbabwean social, economic entrepreneurs based outside the country is key to real sustainable development.”
The DFZ initiative emerged from a Zimbabwe International Diaspora Conference hosted by the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation in December 2009. The conference brought together Zimbabweans in key institutions across the globe to inaugurate a conversation on how Zimbabweans abroad could be mobilised to play strategically defined roles in the economic and social development of Zimbabwe. The organisation was officially launched in South Africa two weeks ago.
The conference will be held from December 16 to 18. — Staff Writer.