Have Zimbabweans in the Diaspora abdicated their birth right?

OPINION – The recent debate instigated by the PM Morgan Tsvangirai on whether Zimbabweans in the Diaspora should go back home to assist in the reconstruction of Zimbabwe at this moment in time following the formation of the inclusive government brought to the fore a lot more questions than answers, with regard to us Zimbabweans as a people and the degree of commitment we have to our beloved country.\r\n

In fact when it comes to our country, we Zimbabweans as a people have mastered the art of coming up with excuses in order to extend our stay in the comforts of foreign lands. This reminds me of any old adage that pretty much sums the attitude of my fellow citizens with regard to Zimbabwe.

There was any important job to be done and everybody was sure that somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but nobody did it and somebody got angry about that because it was everybody’s job. Everybody thought that anybody could do it, but nobody realised that everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that everybody blamed somebody when nobody did what anybody could have done.

Zimbabwe as a country is haemorrhaging and urgently needs its sons and daughters back in the fold in order to make it out of its current quagmire. Arguments have been advanced as to the timing of the Prime minister’s call for Zimbabweans to seriously consider coming back home.

If we are to be honest with ourselves we all knew this day was coming, but instead we decided to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that Zimbabwe will sort itself out and we will be invited at the end of it all to take up high flying positions without as so much as lifting a finger to fix anything. Yes we have been remitting our hard earned income to our families in Zimbabwe, but this has been largely subsistence money in its attributes. None of that money could be regarded as enough to get the industries going again.

The second argument advanced in dismissing the prime minister call relates to the perceived human rights situation in Zimbabwe. Despite the Prime minister insisting that Zimbabwe had no political prisoners in its correctional institutions, most Zimbabweans decided to disregard this and instead relied on a report authored by a visiting human rights Official from Amnesty International. Logic will, correctly perceived, should guide us accordingly.

The Prime minister lives in Zimbabwe and the Amnesty International official was merely visiting, surely on a balance of probabilities whom amongst the two, the Prime minister and the Amnesty International official should be believed when it came to what is going on in Zimbabwe.

In Britain sacrifices were made through the industrial revolution by its citizens to bring this island to its current status as the desired destination of every national in the world.

The Industrial revolution was a period in the history of Britain when the British people decided to take charge of their economic destiny following years of poverty and political instability. They as citizens came up with innovative ways of producing goods, manufacturing services and created new methods of transportation based on their geo-political reality.

They designed machinery based on the reality of their terrain. This not only revolutionised the way their market system operated, but also changed the way they themselves perceived their status in the wider world. In other words they redefined their psyche bringing it in harmony with their national agenda.

They defined what they required as basic necessities for their growth. Sacrifices were made and society in general paid a heavy price for the emergence of the society that we now seek to become a part of . The welfare system in place did not come over night. Their revolution was total. Hence the subsequent benefits.

Prior to the industrial revolution they pretty much survived the way we are surviving in Zimbabwe, through a culture of subsistence existence whereby a few local consumers operated a simple "putting out" system. The average producer at the time was able to produce a product in the same area that he or she lived on and the demand for that product was usually set by a few local consumers.

The advent of the industrial revolution saw the citizens of Britain bringing about a disciplined and determined work ethic. We are all familiar with payment systems based on work put in.The Industrial Revolution presented mankind with a miracle that changed the fabric of human behaviour and social interaction. Eventually, it even influenced political ideologies and spread across the four corners of the Earth.

Zimbabwe needs man and woman who will pioneer this kind of economic revolution in Zimbabwe. Amongst our kith and kin are some brilliant minds that can turn water into wine. Zimbabwe is endowed with a wealth of natural resources which if exploited can bring about a new economic reality in our country. It is a given that the politics of a country influence its economics hence the sad reality of where we are economically.

However it is also equally true that dynamic economic agendas can also bring about a new political dispensation in Zimbabwe. The argument of Zimbabweans being sent to school at this eleventh hour, at the dawn of a new Zimbabwe is not only selfish, but myopic. Zimbabwe needs its citizens now.

The other argument being advanced relates to the availability of jobs in Zimbabwe and the paltry one hundred dollars salary being paid. Whilst I understand the problems associated with the major adjustment required psychologically, it is however beyond comprehension as to why would a Zimbabwean exposed to the west for the better part of the last 9-10 years be doing looking for a job in Zimbabwe. I for one and I am sure society at large in Zimbabwe would be expecting this class of people to come home and be the job creators. They must employ the unemployed people in Zimbabwe as soon as they put their projects in place.

The last census in 1992 reported a population of 10.4 m; the estimated population in 2001 was 12.8m. It is estimated that at least 4 million Zimbabweans are outside the country. That leaves a total of at least 8 million Zimbabweans at home, theoretically speaking. However if we factor in the realities of the high mortality rate post 2000, Zimbabwe has at most 6 million citizens within its borders. The demographic shape of this population shows a high number of elderly people and children.

The required demographic numbers to jump start an economy does not exist in Zimbabwe. Numbers are needed for government and state to get Zimbabwe working again. The Government of Zimbabwe pretty much educated its own long back when the Zimbabwe budget was biased towards higher education. Hence to ask Zimbabweans to begin the audacious task of going back to school whilst Zimbabwe burns is expecting a bit too much.

It is a truism that people get the government they deserve. Zimbabwe is in its current state mainly due to the attitude of its citizens. The same citizens, who vote government into power, empower the politicians beyond measure and then cry foul when those same politicians turn around and exercise the powers bestowed on them. Exiled Zimbabweans are theoretically victims of state power being used against them, correctly or otherwise.

This power may have been exercised through political or economic institutions; it does however not make any difference. The issue is that we are responsible at the end of the day for the government we choose whether it treats us right or not. The fact that we failed to stand our ground means that we are not as a people not prepared to face the "monster" we assumedly created, hence we cut and run to safe countries.

Ladies and gentlemen in shona parlance we say "kudzokera kumusha hakuridzirwi bera, kana nguva yakwana yakwana"(No bell is going to sound , signalling us to go back to Zimbabwe). The same way we came must also be the same way we must return, one by one, but return we must, Zimbabwe needs its citizens. Let’s put all the excuses aside and be realistic with ourselves. I, myself will be making my own individual plans to go home and play my role in bringing Zimbabwe up on its feet.

 

The writer Lloyd Msipa writes from London in the United Kingdom. He can be contacted at lmsipalaw@googlemail.com