By Daniel Chigundu
ECONOMIST Gift Mugano says allowing millions of Zimbabweans living and working in the diaspora to participate in elections is key for the country’s economic turnaround.
It is widely believed that there are about three million Zimbabweans living in the diaspora for various reasons that range from political persecution, economic challenges and academic among many other reasons.
These Zimbabweans have calling on the government to allow them to exercise their voting while in the diaspora but their call has been falling on deaf ears since 2000 when the current main opposition MDC-T was formed.
The government has instead over the years been looking at ways of enticing these diasporans to invest back home or increase their remittances.
Former Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Rita Makarau is on record telling the media that her organisation had no problem with diaspora vote, adding that what was lacking was laws that would support the vote and procedures to be followed.
Addressing legislators during a post-budget-seminar, Mugano said there was no way people would put their money where they don’t enjoy their rights.
“The diaspora community is one way we can get the much needed foreign currency, for example in Nigeria they used to get about US$10 billion from remittances, but when they introduced diaspora vote that figure has shot to US$20 billion.
“Investors will only bring their money to a country where they are allowed to make a decision, so diaspora vote is important for the economic turnaround,” he said.
Although Zimbabwe crafted the Diaspora Policy a few years ago, economic and political watchers are in agreement that the policy will not attract anything if it continues to be silent on the issue of diaspora voting.
Government’s reluctance to allow diaspora vote, however, stems from the widely believed myth that most diasporans are victims of politics and would literally vote for the opposition party.
The biggest number of Zimbabwe diasporans is said to be in South Africa followed by UK, Australia, New Zealand and Botswana among many others.
The diaspora wave saw Zimbabwe losing some of its best brains in the engineering, medical, ICT, administration and financial sector among many others across every sector of the economy.
Meanwhile, Mugano has also called on the government to consider holding a free and fair election if it entertains hopes of attracting meaningful investors.