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Diaspora delivered MDC victories in 2008

Opinion by Tonderai Samanyanga

The role of the Diaspora is not quiet understood in Zimbabwean developmental and functional politics. Many nations have embraced their diaspora constituencies in crafting a sound direction for their nations.

Tonderai Samanyanga
Tonderai Samanyanga

The diaspora’s contribution can vary from material to intellectual contributions and if well coordinated can provide a sound base for developmental aspects of the nation. The Diaspora can provide for remittances that will positively contribute to the nation’s economic development.

They can be a wheel for Small to Medium Scale Enterprises as many Diaspora communities investments are possible if a conducive investment climate is provided for them. Multi-million dollar Joint Ventures can be guided by those in the Diaspora through their strategic positions and connections in the foreign land.

The Constitutive Act of the AU declares that it shall “invite and encourage the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of our Continent, in the building of the African Union”.

The African Union Government has defined the African diaspora as “consisting of people of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union”.

Zimbabweans have continued to make uncoordinated contributions to the development of their nation.

Zimbabwe has seen in the region of above 70% of the national foreign income coming from Diaspora remittances. In the economic crisis of 2005-2009, Diaspora remittances sustained the nation. Even the MDC as a party benefited from remittances from their Diaspora members.

The MDC is the only Zimbabwean political party with organised Diaspora constituencies. There are three fully structured and elected External Assemblies, that is MDC-UK & Ireland, MDC-SA and MDC-USA. There also great potential for New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Europe.

The top seven of these External Assemblies are members of the National Council of the party. If ample notice is given, they can make travel arrangements to be in every National Council meeting to make the needed contribution to their party.

It is true that the Diaspora plays an important role and should be engaged positively. Eritrea was liberated by the resources mobilised by its Diaspora, micro business is booming in Ghana, Nigeria from investments led by their Diaspora communities.

The AU has already recognised the importance of the African Diaspora to the extent that they have in recent years created another Region for the Diaspora.

The Speaker of Zimbabwe’s 7th Parliament & the MDC National Chairman, Hon Lovemore Moyo last year addressed the AU Diaspora Parliament Forum in Maputo.

Zimbabweans don’t have to look far to understand the importance of the Diaspora and the key contributions made so far , they just visit their Right Honourable’s address to the AU Diaspora Parliamentary Forum and the facts are laid bare.

The MDC Diaspora Constituency in the past stood up to support their party with resources when the party was on its knees after the split of 2005. It also initiated a well coordinated and successful Twinning Program that saw campaign resources channelled to rural constituencies.

This helped to deliver the first MDC rural Constituency victories in the 2008 elections. Even ZANU PF has recognised the importance of the Diaspora and are now busy setting up Diaspora structures. In UK there is now an interim structure led by Nick Mangwana.

The MDC at present is the only organisation that can champion the Diaspora involvement and capitalise on the already existing structures. They only need a positive and serious involvement of their party structure in the Diaspora.

You can be surprised by the resultant yield that the party will get from this involvement. I believe these MDC External structures stand ready for the call and I have no doubt of their potential to deliver for the better of our party.

Tonderai Samanyanga is the chairman of the MDC-T in the UK