Zimbabweans in and out of the diaspora have mixed views on why remittances sent to Zimbabwe from various nations, through formal channels like banks and international money transfers, have declined by more than $1 billion over the past year.
The significant drop by 15 percent from $2 billion to $1.2 billion was announced last week by Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, when he made the 2016 fiscal monetary policy review.
Economic commentator, Masimba Kuchera, says one of the reasons could be the global recession that has negatively affected most countries in the world, forcing some Zimbabweans living in some countries to lose their jobs.
“There could be two factors, one being that there is a liquidity crunch in some of the countries where Zimbabweans are now based. Also the other reason could be that the central bank looks at formal modes of remittances yet there’s a lot of money that gets into the country through other channels,” he says.
Kuchera’s views are echoed by British-based political commentator, Nkululeko Sibanda of Huddersfield University, who adds that Zimbabweans living abroad have lost faith with their homeland’s potential for investment.
“I think what is certain in Zimbabwe is that people living in the diaspora now think that investing in the country is not a good idea. The political situation, demos and so forth have not helped the situation at all,” he says, adding that some of the money that used to be sent for investment, especially buying property like houses and development, could be part of the 15 percent that is no longer finding its way to Zimbabwe.
United States-based Den Moyo, who is the MDC-T's U.S provincial chairman, thinks that Chinamasa may be twisting figures to score political points.
Moyo says, “It could be that the government is trying to create an impression that since it’s broke we in the diaspora have stopped sending remittances and is abandoning our families.”
Dennis Juru, who is the leader of the International Crossborder Association and lives in South Africa, says the depreciating figures of diaspora remittances can be attributed to cash shortages in Zimbabwe that have forced Zimbabweans living outside the country to send less money to their folks.
“People are not sure that if they send money the recipient will get the money ... They have now resorted to sending money home through other means like buses, cars and son on.”
Zimbabwe has a vibrant skilled and non-skilled diaspora population living in many nations like South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and United States, who regularly send money back home to sustain their families that have lost jobs or simply cannot find any due to the current harsh economic situation in the country.