Hatred Zenenga and Africa Moyo in DUBAI, the UAE
President Mnangagwa yesterday engaged Zimbabweans based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he emphasised the need for all citizens to play a part in the socio-economic development of their country despite their geographic location.
The engagement was part of the President’s deliberate policy of re-engaging Zimbabweans in the Diaspora under the Zimbabwe Diaspora Engagement forum that he started at the advent of the Second Republic.
Under the policy, President Mnangagwa meets Zimbabweans in the Diaspora on the sidelines of his international engagements wherever he goes.
Since then, the Diaspora engagement has become a key pillar that has been outlined under the National Development Strategy towards the national vision of achieving a prosperous and empowered upper middle income economy by 2030.
During his highly interactive engagement that was oversubscribed yesterday, the President said the national Constitution demands the involvement of all citizens in the formulation and implementation of national development plans and programmes that affect them.
Proper citizens, added the President, will be remembered for their contribution to their country and not for unfairly criticising it.
“You are as much a part of us as much as we will forever be a part of you,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Each and every Zimbabwean therefore, whether living abroad or at home, has something to offer to achieve sustainable socio-economic development and growth of a higher quality of life for our people.
“This gathering therefore, is indeed an example that as a Diaspora community, you are available to play your part in building the Zimbabwe we all want. As such, I encourage you to strengthen your groups and associations within your various localities for a more co-ordinated approach to participating in the socio-economic development programmes and projects back home.”
Some of the projects that the Diaspora can consider are in line with the devolution agenda that seeks to drive development from the grassroots, with the aim of achieving an upper middle income society.
During the highly interactive session in which the President occasionally plunged participants into fits of laughter with his jokes to break the seriousness that characterised the start of the function, he thanked the Diaspora community for contributing to economic development through remittances to their families, but advised them to consider channelling some funds to the productive sectors.
He said due to Zimbabwe’s isolation through sanctions imposed by the West principally the United States 21 years ago, the leadership had psyched up citizens to participate in national development through the mantra “nyika inovakwa nevene vayo”. The President said he had added “Tisu vene vayo” to the ongoing call to action encapsulated in the mantra.
The sanctions have caused untold suffering among citizens despite claims by the West that they were targeted at selected national leaders.
President Mnangagwa explained that when a lion is hunting, it attacks the most important part of its prey to fasttrack its death, which is what has been achieved by the sanctions.
Zesa lost over 400 engineers as the economy was affected, with some of them getting jobs, ironically, in the US.
But the President said Zimbabwe had initiated a programme to lure the engineers back home to help revive their country, and some had already returned.
With the return of the crucial skills, Zimbabwe expects to be energy self-sufficient in the next two years.
Presently, a number of key projects to expand electricity generation are underway, with the marquee project being the US$1,5 billion expansion of Hwange Power Station’s Units 7 and 8, which will feed an additional 600MW into the national grid at completion in the next few months.
President Mnangagwa called on the Diaspora to bring back home the skills they have acquired from their time operating in other countries.
During the question and answer session, most of the contributors sought to find out how they can get land for farming and construction of schools and hospitals.
Dr Alan Nhapi, a medical doctor who has been operating in Australia for about two decades, passionately appealed for land to construct a state-of-the-art hospital that treats chronic diseases, either in Victoria Falls or near the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
In response, President Mnangagwa said: “It is not easy to promise a Head of State and not deliver. I take the challenge. If you want land, come and we will give you State land in Victoria Falls and even in Harare.”
The President tasked Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro to work with Dr Nhapi to ensure he gets the land for the construction of the hospital, much to the appreciation of participants.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said processes were underway to ensure multiple farm ownerships were eliminated while those that cannot produce or are under-producing, get the licence of land that they deserve.
However, he said some members of the Diaspora could start farming projects through joint ventures.
A number of ministers including Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava, Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Dr Kirsty Coventry, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe, attended the engagement with the Diaspora