Expatriate Zimbabweans recently launched a new organization aiming to bring the resources of the so-called diaspora to bear on the economic recovery and development of their country.
The Development Foundation of Zimbabwe, based in Cape Town, South Africa, aims to harmonize and strengthen diaspora networks to contribute more effectively contribute to Zimbabwe's return to prosperity.
Group spokesman Alex Magaisa said the initiative emerged from a December 2009 conference hosted by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town. Among other objectives, it seeks to ensure the Zimbabwe government’s engagement with the diaspora take place within a coherent policy framework, he said.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai spoke at the Cape Town conference and urged the diaspora community to seek ways to unite and work to help Zimbabwe recover its former economic strength.
Graca Machel, wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, officially launched the initiative. She challenged Zimbabweans in the diaspora to help their country regain its place as a regional economic power.
“I wish Zimbabweans in this room a progressive and developmental citizenry that contributes genuinely to the reconstruction of their country – a country that must by all means regain its stature in the region.”
Machel said most communities in Africa are still struggling to meet basic human rights such as water, health care and education – challenges she hopes the group will tackle with its partners in Zimbabwe.
Magaisa told VOA that the Development Foundation, which draws on top minds from various sectors, also seeks to engage the Harare unity government on issues of concern to the diaspora, such as dual-citizenship.
“ While the pace and degree of [the current political] transition is evidently a source of pain and frustration for most Zimbabweans who wish the country to move speedily towards sustainable recovery and economic development, it is evident that this transition is irreversible," so the diaspora must better coordinate resources, Magaisa said.
Global Zimbabwe Forum International Coordinator Daniel Molokela said his group, established in 2009, will be working closely with the Development Foundation of Zimbabwe.
The Development Foundation will organize a multi-stakeholder conference in Victoria Falls later this year to promote an efficient and effective role by Zimbabwe diaspora communities in the country's recovery.
"We need to move beyond remittances and get the diaspora to engage directly with stakeholders in country hence the decision to hold this conference,” Magaisa said.