Zimbabweans in the diapora, put at nearly four million, are not keen to invest in their own country while the Zimbabwe African National-Union Patriotic Front is in power because most of them have differences with ZANU-PF.
This analysis is contained in a diplomatic cable dispatched by the United States embassy in September 2009, seven months after the formation of the inclusive government which saw ZANU-PF leader Robert Mugabe remain President with Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister.
With the two parties sharing an equal number of seats in parliament there is technically no ruling party in Zimbabwe.
In fact, when the two factions of the MDC team up they have more seats than ZANU-PF and were able to elect MDC-T chairman Lovemore Moyo as Speaker of Parliament, twice, precisely because of their higher numbers, though there have been reports that some members of ZANU-PF also voted for Moyo.
The cable says the only notable players in the economy who were in the diaspora were Econet boss Strive Masiyiwa and mining executive Mutumwa Mawere.
“The diaspora community is not a significant participant in long-term investment in Zimbabwe. While there are a handful of entrepreneurs who have established successful businesses in Zimbabwe while living abroad — the CEO of cellular operator Econet, Strive Masiyiwa, and mining executive Mutumwa Mawere for instance — these are exceptions.
“Many potential investors in the diaspora left Zimbabwe due to differences with ZANU-PF and are reluctant to invest while ZANU-PF remains in power. Additionally, there are concerns about political instability and onerous investment regulations.”
Viewing cable 09HARARE745, EXPERIENCE ENGAGING DIASPORA COMMUNITIES: HARARE
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0745/01 2610900
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 180900Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4915
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000745
AF/S FOR B. WALCH
DRL FOR N. WILETT
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR J. HARMON AND L. DOBBINS
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: EXPERIENCE ENGAGING DIASPORA COMMUNITIES: HARARE
REF: STATE 86401
¶1. (U) This cable responds to questions presented in Ref.
¶2. A. (U) To what extent are diasporans from your host
country an identifiable community? Are there existing
diaspora networks, organizations or online communities
available as platforms for outreach?
i) (U) Estimates by NGOs, diplomatic officials, and press
accounts of the size of the Zimbabwean community residing
outside of Zimbabwe range from 2.5 million to 3.85 million
people. These Zimbabweans consist of a mix of professionals
and semi-skilled migrants who now predominantly reside in
South Africa, the UK, Botswana, the U.S., and Australia.
According to the International Organization on Migration
(IOM), the largest diasporan community is in South Africa,
where IOM estimates that as many as 3.1 million Zimbabweans
reside, the majority of whom are illegal migrants. Other
countries with sizable Zimbabwean populations (estimates from
IOM) are the UK (400,000), Botswana (200,000), the U.S.
(100,000), Australia (22,000), Canada (20,000), New Zealand
(7,000) and Namibia (2,000). Migrants in these countries
tend to belong to identifiable communities.
ii) (U) Most existing diaspora networks are located in South
Africa with some connection to other countries. These
include Global Zimbabwe Forum, Zimbabwe Diaspora Development
Chamber, Diaspora Nurses Association, Progressive Teachers of
Zimbabwe in South Africa, Creative Writers Association
Workshop, and Peace and Democracy Project. They act as
useful platforms for outreach. The IOM utilized them when it
organized a Zimbabwe Diaspora Engagement Workshop in May
¶B. (U) What is the nature of the connection of the diaspora
community to the host country?
i) (U) It is common for Zimbabweans in the diaspora to
maintain close ties with their families in Zimbabwe and to
support them economically. Many low- and semi-skilled
workers have left Zimbabwe because of the collapse of the
agricultural, mining, and industrial sectors and remit
portions of their meager wages. Higher-skilled migrants, who
have left Zimbabwe for either political or economic reasons,
are generally earning higher wages and able to send back
ii) (SBU) Some highly educated migrants have maintained
their memberships in Zimbabwean professional associations.
For example, the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Medical
Aid Association (ZIMA) told us that many doctors in the
diaspora keep their dues current with ZIMA even though they
may have left Zimbabwe years ago.
iii) (SBU) Many diasporans are active in the political
discourse on Zimbabwe despite still being denied the right to
vote in elections. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
political party has branches in South Africa, the UK, the
U.S., Australia, and Canada. These branches hold annual
congresses and maintain close contact with the party in
Zimbabwe through the MDC national chairperson.
¶C. (U) To what extent has your host country or government
activated its diaspora communities for humanitarian relief?
i) (SBU) While there have been instances when the diasporan
community contributed to humanitarian relief efforts, this
has not been at the instigation or encouragement of
government. Last year, during a health crisis, medical
equipment was donated to Harare Hospital. These sorts of
efforts are initiated by members of the diaspora who often
partner with international donor groups to provide ad hoc
Qpartner with international donor groups to provide ad hoc
¶D. (U) To what extent is the diaspora community engaged in
long-term investment in your host country?
i) (SBU) The diaspora community is not a significant
participant in long-term investment in Zimbabwe. While there
are a handful of entepreneurs who have established
successful businesses in Zimbabwe while living abroad — the
CEO of cellular operator Econet, Strive Masiyiwa, and mining
executive Mutumwa Mawere for instance — these are
exceptions. Many potential investors in the diaspora left
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Zimbabwe due to differences with ZANU-PF and are reluctant to
invest while ZANU-PF remains in power. Additionally, there
are concerns about political instability and onerous
ii) (SBU) The diaspora community has shown some interest in
real estate. Although investment in this sector has declined
in the last three years, demand for houses by the diaspora is
showing signs of increasing due to optimism following the
establishment of the new ZANU-PF–MDC inclusive government in
¶E. (U) To what extent is the diaspora community working
toward scientific, engineering, medical, and educational
i) (U) Many skilled professionals have left Zimbabwe. These
include large numbers of civil, mechanical, electrical and
mining engineers. Within the medical field, numerous doctors
and nurses have left. Numerous teachers have migrated to
South Africa and other neighboring countries. In 2008, for
example, Botswana hired a large proportion of the science and
math teachers from the city of Bulawayo. Additionally,
numerous Zimbabwean students are studying health, medicine,
engineering, economics, finance, and science in the U.S.,
South Africa, and in other countries. While they are not
currently engaged in institution building in Zimbabwe, they
constitute a potentially valuable resource should local
conditions improve and prompt their return.
¶F. (U) To what extent is the diaspora community engaged in
conflict resolution and peace building?
i) (U) The Zimbabwean diaspora has not assumed an active
role in conflict resolution or peace building.
¶G. (U) To what extent is the diaspora community engaged in
meeting the health, education and welfare needs of indigenous
i) (U) The participation of the diaspora community in
meeting the health, education and welfare needs of indigenous
peoples is predominantly focused on financial support to
their families. The diaspora community sends funds back home
to support their families with school fees, medical care and
related household expenses.
ii) (U) Additionally, some in the diaspora are engaged in
fundraising activities to support the work of NGOs and social
welfare organizations as well as faith-based organizations in
their home communities in Zimbabwe. Diasporans also
volunteer their expertise when home in Zimbabwe on visits —
either formally or informally — in order to assist such
organizations and their communities.
¶H. (U) To what extent is the diaspora community engaged in
democracy promotion, electoral reform and civil society
i) (U) The diaspora community is active in promoting
democracy, electoral reform and civil society development.
This is done through the creation of websites such as
Zimbabwe Situation, ZimDaily, the Zimbabwe Times, and the
newspaper The Zimbabwean (distributed in Zimbabwe) and the
placement of op/eds in newspapers throughout the world.
Additionally the diaspora maintains contact with government
officials in numerous countries and lobbies for support for
democratic elements within Zimbabwe. In particular, the
diaspora community is lobbying for provisions in a new
constitution to give it the right to vote and the right to
hold dual citizenship. These are positions that the MDC has
embraced and is championing.
¶I. (U) How would you characterize the level of concern and
attention given to diaspora communities by your host
Qattention given to diaspora communities by your host
i) (SBU) Prior to the formation of the current inclusive
government, the ZANU-PF-led government paid little attention
to the diaspora. This was due to the belief that the
diaspora population — including skilled and semi-skilled
migrants — was supportive of the political opposition MDC
ii) (SBU) The MDC, which is now part of government, views
HARARE 00000745 003 OF 003
the diaspora as an important resource and base of support.
Consequently, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has met with
diaspora groups in the U.S., Europe and South Africa to
address their concerns and encourage them to return to
¶J. (U) If Post has undertaken programs to reach out
proactively to diaspora community members, please share the
circumstances that prompted the outreach effort.
i) (U) Post has no formal programs to reach out to the
diaspora community. We meet from time to time with
Zimbabweans residing outside the country who are visiting,
and maintain contacts with some Zimbabweans in the diaspora,
principally in South Africa.
¶K. (U) If Post has received unsolicited requests from the
diaspora community please share the nature of these request.
i) (U) Post has received many inquiries on how to give back
effectively from former program participants and students
from Zimbabwe who studied in the U.S.; these requests are on
how to gain employment in Zimbabwe, how to seek local
internship and volunteer opportunities, and how to
participate in fund-raising efforts with community-based
¶L. (U) To what extent has Post designed or participated in
public diplomacy programs customized to diaspora community
needs and interests?
i) (U) The Educational Advising Center based in the Public
Affairs Section of the Embassy has been working actively with
Zimbabwean stuQts who are studying in the U.S., or who have
graduated and are working full-time, or are engaged in
internships in the U.S. We have launched a Facebook page for
them and actively engage them as speakers when they are home
on holidays. We work to integrate them into our programming,
especially for our pre-departure orientations and as speakers
in our Food for Thought seminar series. Through the
Embassy’s USAP program (www.usapglobal.org), which assists
Zimbabwean students to study in the U.S., we support a
website, listservs and annual conferences, to foster
communication among Zimbabwean students living in the U.S.
¶M. (U) In planning future programs and anticipating requests
for assistance for diaspora community actors, what types of
knowledge management tools and information materials would be
most helpful to action officers at Post?
i) (U) Post would greatly benefit from a tool which would
allow us to create a database to track the skills, interests,
and levels of involvement of Zimbabweans in their home
communities. This would allow us to capitalize on
diasporans’ ability to contribute to a Zimbabwean recovery.