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Extravagant Demands Unsettling Some Zimbaweans in Diaspora

FILE: Bronx's African diaspora community, tens of thousands strong and growing in New York, Aug. 24, 2014. (Adam Phillips/VOA)

Some Zimbabweans say they are now heavily dependent on remittances from relatives and friends living outside the country due to the current harsh economic environment.

But relations between Zimbabweans back home and millions in the diaspora are at times sour as some complain of calls in the middle of the night and extravagant demands.

For perspective, VOA Studio 7 reached Thamsanqa Zhou, who is living in London, and Gwanda resident and social commentator Bekezela Maduma, who said most of the demands being made by people back home are genuine.

“In some cases there are some people who may make some extravagant demands but generally people here are suffering and the diaspora is the only source of their livelihood. The situation is too bad here and those calls being made are really genuine in most cases,” said Maduma.

Zhou noted that Zimbabweans living outside the country understand what people back home are going through and as a result they are not bothered by demands made by relatives and friends.

“I don’t want to say people are bothered because in most cases due to the challenges that we see befalling our communities in the diaspora whenever there is a phone call from back home it would appear that there is an urgent need for something to be done on the ground and there is an expectation that people in the diaspora would be able to assist,” said Zhou.

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A video of a women, believed to be a Nigerian living in the diaspora, circulating in various social media platforms has gone viral.

The woman, who lashes out at what she says are midnight calls by people back home demanding money for luxurious items like expensive clothes, shoes and others, further says there is need for people to know that they are also suffering in various nations where they at times live from hand to mouth.

Zimbabweans send back home almost about $800 million a year, which is now almost sustaining the fragile national economy with an estimated Gross Domestic Product of between $6 billion and $8 billion. Countries like Mexico get about $2 billion a year in remittances from citizens living in various countries.

Many African nations like Ghana and Nigeria have crafted innovative ways of harnessing these remittances to boost local development. They have clear-cut policies promoting linkages with citizens living in the diaspora.