“This dialogue should continue; it is good for the diaspora and for national development”, said Mr. Chapeyama, the Zimbabwean community leader within the diaspora in Botswana, during a two-day engagement in Gaborone with the Diaspora Directorate of the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ), supported by IOM.
The engagements which took place from 7-8 June in Gaborone provided an opportunity for the government to acknowledge the contribution of the diaspora members and further dialogue with them, promoting their involvement in national development.
Over the past decades, the size of the Zimbabwean diaspora has steadily grown. It is estimated that close to 3 million Zimbabweans live abroad in countries such as South Africa, Botswana, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, among other destinations.
Due to its proximity to Zimbabwe, Botswana hosts the second largest Zimbabwean migrant population in the region. An estimated 40 000 Zimbabweans are among foreign workers in Botswana with most of them employed in agriculture, construction, education, health and manufacturing, financial services among other sectors. Some are successful entrepreneurs, operating thriving businesses in the country.
“The engagement visit marks a milestone for the GoZ given that it is the first formal engagement following the adoption of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Policy and the launch of the Diaspora Directorate in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade,” said the head of the Zimbabwean delegation to Botswana Ambassador Pavelyn Musaka in her keynote address.
Ambassador Musaka acknowledged the development role of migration noting that the Zimbabwe Diaspora Policy recognises the diaspora as critical to development. “contemporary migration has become a key feature of social and economic development”, she stated.
“The diaspora make critical contributions through investments back home, knowledge and skills transfer, improvements in human development through philanthropic work and improve foreign currency inflows through remittances.”
She highlighted that opportunities are being sought to increase collaboration with diaspora communities in realising their own aspirations and assisting them to maximise their potential to development.
“It is our intention that following this visit, we will make recommendations with respect to the structure and work that we will undertake as government to promote collaborations with the diaspora. This initiative is not an end in itself but a process we are starting and hope to sustain for the good of our country.”
Diaspora associations in Botswana commended the government initiative in promoting dialogue with the diaspora emphasising the need for trust and continuous engagements.
“These engagements are important for trust building between us and the government, after this meeting, I am more confident that whenever we have issues we can reach out to our government and get answers to our questions. We all need to contribute to the uplifting of our country,” said Mr. Chapeyama, community leader within the diaspora in Botswana.
“We acknowledge the support from IOM to the government and we urge them to expand this initiative to other countries to encourage Zimbabweans to take an active role in the development of their country,” he continued.
Since 2009, the Government of Zimbabwe with support from IOM, has spearheaded a number of diaspora focused programmatic, policy and institutional interventions. These include the development and adoption of a National Diaspora Policy and the establishment and operationalization of a Diaspora Directorate responsible for coordinating diaspora related issues in consultation with responsible line Ministries.
The diaspora engagement visit initiative was supported within the implementation frameworks of IOM Development Fund project “Strengthening the Institutional Capacity of the Zimbabwean Diaspora Directorate for Increased Diaspora Engagement”, and the “Promoting Migration Governance in Zimbabwe” project under the 11th European Development Fund.