Diaspora Fund – The devil lies in the details
By Moses Chamboko
Congratulations to those who have spared effort and resources to kick-start this very noble idea – The Diaspora Fund. This is an initiative that many of us have been most passionate about for a number of years now, particularly in the last two.
However, as always, people will have questions to ask, to enable them to make informed choices.
Soon after I learnt about the Victoria Falls conference through an interview that one of the organisers had with an online publication, I wrote an email to the organiser seeking clarification on a few issues which I thought were central to this development. As I write, I haven’t received even an acknowledgement; hence, I’m raising the same questions here.
1. Why wasn’t this conference publicised far and wide throughout the Diaspora community prior to holding it?
2. How were delegates picked and who selected them, on what criteria?
3. Were delegates truly representative of the Diaspora constituency or just sections of it, mainly South Africa, United Kingdom and North America?
4. Was there any reason for holding the Diaspora conference exactly on the same dates as the ZANU PF annual conference though in opposite geographical locations of Zimbabwe?
5. Is there any longstanding “private” relationship(s) between Trustees of the Development Foundation of Zimbabwe?
6. What is the process of joining this initiative?
At the end of the conference, we learnt through some sections of the media that among the countries represented were Australia, Botswana, Ethiopia, the Netherlands, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States. On face value, these would sound fairly representative though Canada and New Zealand are among some of the notable omissions considering the large number of Zimbabweans resident there.
For the sake of transparency and as a confidence-building measure, may the organisers please tell us who represented which country? May they also tell us how that person/delegate/representative was nominated?
Out of interest, I’ve spoken to a number of Zimbabweans primarily in Australia and New Zealand who all profess ignorance of their representation at this conference. If this initiative is to be successful, then it has to be truly inclusive (not in the GPA but business sense) from the onset.
One would have expected articulation of finer details at the end of the conference regarding the operation of the proposed Diaspora Fund. If any details are available, then they are in such a small print that only a privileged few can read them. Considering that “money does not shoot from a natural spring in the Diaspora” every potential investor will be asking for facts and figures before making any serious commitment.
Moving forward, I would like to suggest that coordinators should come up with an effective strategy on positive engagement of the entire Diaspora constituency of which one way is through establishment of visible local chapters so that people have the opportunity to directly deal with representatives that they know and can relate to. I doubt if those in the Asia-Pacific region will be comfortable dealing with a person based in North America or Europe that they have never met except through some media interviews or postings.
Also, there is need to make the whole thing stop “feeling and smelling” like an alumni network. Rather, it should project a fair and balanced mix of academia, professionalism, entrepreneurship, pragmatism and of course common sense if this programme is to achieve its intended purpose. Around 90% of Zimbabweans in Western Australia are probably health professionals and tradesmen. Do they have representation in this entity? We hope this was not another convenient reunion of old friends and colleagues separated by the deep seas and oceans around the globe.