Zimbabweans in South Africa Demand Parliamentary Representation Amid Diaspora Policy Review

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BULAWAYO – Zimbabweans residing in South Africa are calling for representation in Zimbabwe’s Parliament, arguing that their significant numbers and economic contributions warrant consideration.

This demand coincides with the Zimbabwean government’s ongoing review of the 2016 National Diaspora Policy. The Zimbabwean consulate in South Africa issued a public notice urging Zimbabweans in South Africa and the wider Diaspora to submit their input by May 17, 2024.

The policy review is scheduled for the week of June 17 to 21, 2024.

Ngqabutho Nicholas Mabhena, Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, told CITE that his organization had already submitted a request for parliamentary representation. “Last year or the year before, we made our submissions towards the National Diaspora Policy and asked for parliamentary representation,” Mabhena said.

Mabhena emphasized the economic contributions of Zimbabweans in South Africa, who send remittances and purchase building materials that boost Zimbabwe’s construction industry and employment. He argued that there is currently no proper legislative linkage between the diaspora community and Zimbabwe.

“With a huge population of Zimbabweans in South Africa, we felt there is a need to have one of them sitting in the National Assembly as a diaspora MP,” he said, explaining that this would enable Zimbabweans abroad to participate in legislative discussions that impact them.

Mabhena noted that various bills affecting the Diaspora community, particularly in trade and imports, pass through Parliament. “Measures on trade or imports affect the Diaspora community because we import goods from South Africa to Zimbabwe. We felt there is a need for the Diaspora to be represented in Parliament,” he said.

He added that if the government can allocate quota seats for women and youth, it should also be possible to do so for citizens based abroad. “We said if you have a quota for women and youth in Zimbabwean Parliament, it is also possible to have the Diasporans elect one of their own to represent them in the National Assembly,” Mabhena said.

On May 15, 2024, the Zimbabwean Consulate in South Africa reiterated its call for Zimbabweans to submit their inputs for the review of the 2016 National Diaspora Policy. The Consulate highlighted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is leading the policy review.

“As special citizens whose interests in national development initiatives are the main focus of the review, the Diaspora is invited to submit input into the review of the policy,” said Acting Consular General Chengetai Murahwa. “In recognition of the importance of adopting an all-stakeholders approach in revising the diaspora policy, your input to the Policy Review Process would be greatly appreciated.”

Murahwa urged members of the Zimbabwe Diaspora community to participate in the consultative process, with submissions to be sent to specified email addresses by May 17, 2024.