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Opinion / Columnist

Of Zimbabweans in the UK

26 Jul 2019 at 08:03hrs | Views
The Government has been clear that, while there are problems back home, authorities alone cannot sort them out. It needs all Zimbabweans, including those in the Diaspora to work towards rebuilding the Zimbabwe we want. It is our country together, and if we do not invest or take advantage of existing opportunities, foreigners will grab them and build the Zimbabwe they want.

There is one thing about journalism; it gives you an advantage of a ringside seat on major events and activities. It gives you an advantage of proximity to the scene. Recently, I found myself in the United Kingdom as part of the Government's broader re-engagement process.

One thing for sure, Zimbabweans in the Diaspora miss home. While in the past they had generally grown to treat every Government move with suspicion, they now have hope in the New Dispensation and are surprised by the face-to-face interactions, they have been accorded by the New Dispensation.

President Mnangagwa, Government ministers, officials and Ambassador Christian Katsande have done very well to give a new dimension to the lives of many Zimbabweans in the Diaspora. The talk among the Diasporans in the United Kingdom is that the Embassy in London has changed its attitude, its focus and, indeed, the way it treats its people. Of course there are a few who still do not believe in what is happening.

Right now there are a lot of Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom, who have come up with initiatives to bring investments back home and to ensure that many Zimbabweans and their friends visit Zimbabwe and find existing opportunities, under the mantra Zimbabwe is Open for Business. I found this important and interesting. Suddenly the groups have increased and the Government, through the embassy is trying to facilitate their needs. The interest to visit and invest back home has grown.

They also want to bring home their friends. I discovered that many are excited about the prospects of re-engagement between Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom. They are also excited about the prospects of freely moving between the two countries to monitor their projects should they invest home, which means the Government should relook at the visa regime. I must say, there are many Zimbabweans, who have done extremely well, working in the United Kingdom and investing both there and back home. There are, however, those who have not done so well, but are interested.

And, to me that is common. Not all people do well or work hard. There is a third group of Zimbabweans, whose preoccupation is foul-mouthing their country and every good move, as a way of authenticating or justifying their stay in the UK.

They are very active vilifying their Government and everything that is Zimbabwean. And, unbeknown to them, they are being left behind. The progressive thinking ones are moving with time and are riding on the tide.

They use their hate speech and lies to justify why they should not be deported when they have no papers. Some of them have had no papers since 2002. But the UK government seems to have discovered them, and no longer pay a sharp ear to them. But the majority of Zimbabweans in UK are doing very well, extremely well at times and are even buying properties.

In 70 percent of the interactions, Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are looking for land.

Land for agriculture, and believe me they can contribute to their country more by participating in agriculture. More so, they tell you many stories that they have approached so and so to get land, but they did not get it. Some have been duped by dubious characters, whom they paid to get land, but got nothing. There is a fourth group in the Diaspora that has managed to get resident permits or citizenship, but still have their hearts in Zimbabwe.

They have already started approaching Government to find a way of going around their problem. By law they are now foreigners and will be treated as such in every aspect. It is, therefore critical that the Government of Zimbabwe has started a crucial re-engagement with people in the Diaspora, and that was an intelligent move. The Government now understands what its people in the Diaspora face daily.

The bilateral row between Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom, which became internationalised just after the land reform programme carried out by the southern African country to address colonial land tenure imbalances, should be a thing of the past. After almost two decades of hiatus and subsequent change of guard in both countries, it is only important to understand that it is time to move on. Since the coming into office of President Mnangagwa, the Government has gone overdrive to re-engage with the international community.

The Government has also made it clear that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are critical.

It is good that the Government has responded by opening up consuls in all the towns in the United Kingdom as a way of serving its population of Diasporans and serve them in situ. I have no doubt that with continued engagement and re-engagement, more interesting things will come out of Zimbabweans living outside the country. It is fact not fiction that many Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are homesick, and would want things cleared back home and allow them to come back, invest and settle.

The Government has been clear that, while there are problems back home, the Government alone cannot sort them out. It needs all Zimbabweans, including those in the Diaspora to work towards rebuilding the Zimbabwe we all want. It is our country together.

Source - the herald
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