Official figures show that Zimbabweans living outside the country send home more than a billion dollars a year in diaspora remittances yet they don’t vote or have any say in political processes in the southern African nation that has been ruled for more than 35 years by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.
In an attempt to harness ideas from Zimbabweans living in U.S, the Zimbabwe Diaspora Network North America (ZDNNA), which was formed in 2012, recently launched its chapter for people residing in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia. Though the turnout was very low, the conveners hope many Zimbabweans living in the U.S will come aboard.
Huge gatherings of Zimbabweans in the DC metropolitan area are not uncommon, particularly during funerals, weddings or just casual get togethers. Therefore, the low turnout of Zimbabweans to the launch of the DC, Virginia and Maryland chapter of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Network North America, did not escape the organizers.
Some Zimbabweans living in the U.S have become citizens of their host country, assimilating into the American culture and society. However, according to one of the speakers at the launch of the ZDNNA chapter, Portia Kandemirii, Zimbabweans will always stick to each other.
A ZDNNA board member, Tsitsi Madzongwe, says the similarities of culture among members is one of the cornerstones of the organization that seeks to unite Zimbabweans living in the U.S.
ZDNNA president Esau Mavindidze believes that many African countries in the diaspora already have such platforms and Zimbabwe is lagging behind.
The chapter coordinator, Isaac Mwase, says the organization will also benefit those at home.
Simba Maziwisa, a young Zimbabwean who grew up in the U.S, says it is difficult for people like him to claim both the U.S and Zimbabwe as their home.
Although it is not officially known how many Zimbabweans are living in the U.S, some estimates say they could be a couple of thousands. And as the economic situation back home continues to deteriorate hundreds more Zimbabweans are expected to keep flocking to the U.S.