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Diasporans contribute towards growth of rural economies

by Staff reporter
14 Jul 2019 at 12:37hrs | Views
DIASPORANS continue to be the cornerstone of turning around the economies and livelihoods of families at most rural communities in Matabeleland South Province bordering the country with neighbouring countries of South Africa and Botswana.

Bulilima Rural District Council chief executive officer Mr John Brown Ncube said Zimbabweans living in the diaspora, especially those residing and working in South Africa have played a significant contribution in turning around the economy in his area of jurisdiction through remittances and carrying out a plethora of investment projects back home.

"For your own information Bulilima's economy is run by the diaspora community.

Virtually all the shops are either run by people that were once based outside the country and came back to set up businesses here or some are still based outside the country.

Also of note is the fact that most of our residential, commercial and industrial stands applications are mostly by diasporans.

They are actually keen on investing back home," he said.

He said the diaspora community, especially those from South Africa and the United Kingdom (UK) and to a lesser extent Botswana have over the years been involved in most of the infrastructural development particularly the construction of schools and clinics in the district.

"The diaspora community is involved in most of our infrastructural development projects and it has become more of a norm.

Our network with the diaspora has been such that we now know those that are involved in developmental projects in certain areas.

We want to use that initiative for all our developmental projects efforts because we have realised that those in South Africa and the UK always want to plough back where they come from," said Mr Ncube.

He said the local authority was considering approaching the Government to partner diasporans in major infrastructural development projects such as construction of roads and bridges in his area of jurisdiction.

"We are going to have discussions with the Government to consider having partnerships with the diaspora community in road construction because due to the amount of funding involved in such projects, Government won't manage alone thus we need to tap from the diaspora basing on our experience with them on the projects they have carried out in the district," said Mr Ncube.

He said as part of ensuring the district's economic growth the local authority has come up with a deliberate policy of embracing diaspora involvement in most of their programmes.

"There might be no written down policies with regards to our diasporan connection but we deliberately ensure that the requisite information pertaining to our infrastructural development and investment opportunities is availed to them and keep in contact with them.

"We are going to be having a devolution meeting as the three local authorities (Bulilima, Mangwe and Plumtree) soon. We want the event to be big and we intend to have people from the diaspora to strategise with us on how each local authority can contribute and benefit," said Mr Ncube.

The three local authorities are also in the process of lobbying for the setting up of a polytechnic college with the diasporans expected to play a big part in the construction of the educational institution.

Mr Ncube also said the diaspora remittance, although most of it was coming in through informal channels has also played a huge part in alleviating poverty at most homes in communities.

Mangwe Rural District Council chief executive officer Mr Bongani Ngwenya reiterated the same sentiments as Mr Ncube stating that the diaspora community has played a big role in participating in developmental projects in his area of jurisdiction.

"We have what we call piped water schemes, we have five such in Tshitshi in Ward four, which the diasporan community put up to assist communities through solarising water points to pump water along a pipeline, which services a given number of villages.

They have also participated in constructing schools and clinics.

"Water is a major factor in terms of livelihoods and any development towards ensuring availability of water is a huge step towards improving livelihoods.

Apart from consumption people are also able to put up nutritional gardens to enhance their household food security as well as generating income through selling the produce," he said.

Mr Ngwenya said most of the diasporans purchased land from the local authority for the purpose of constructing houses as well as setting up businesses.

"I know many of them are buying residential and business stands in our various centres such as Ingwizi Growth Point and our rural service centres.

They are investing in the district for that kind of development as well," he said.

President Mnangagwa has reiterated calls for the diaspora community to participate in reviving the country's economy and investing back home.

South Africa contributes about 34 percent of the total diaspora remittances into Zimbabwe.

A remittance is money sent by a person in a foreign land to his or her home country. Due to the huge sums involved, remittances are now being recognised as an important contributor to the country's growth and development.

As part of measures to incentivise channelling of remittances through formal channels, the RBZ in 2017 devised an incentive package of up to 10 percent for domestic recipients.

This was in addition to the Diaspora Remittances Incentive Scheme (DRIS) introduced in 2016 that benefited both the money transfer agents and the receiver of the funds on the basis of a two percent and three percent split to reduce the cost of receiving and sending remittances.

However, according to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe diaspora remittances into Zimbabwe dropped by 11,4 percent in 2018 to US$619,2 million from US$699 million received in the prior year.

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Source - sundaynews