GOVERNMENT is in the process of crafting a diaspora policy to, among other things, document all Zimbabweans living in foreign countries including those staying there illegally.
To document all citizens, Government will work with various diaspora groups representing Zimbabweans in those countries.
Responding to questions in the National Assembly’s Question and Answer session last Wednesday, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Deputy Minister Dr David Musabayana said the policy will enable the country to account for all its nationals.
Members wanted to know how the country can account for its citizens in case there are violent riots as happened in South Africa where lives were lost and property worth billions of rand was destroyed.
“Yes, we have a lot of Zimbabweans in South Africa. What we have done as a ministry is that we are working on a diaspora policy. That diaspora policy also involves the registration and putting together and integration of all the organisations and representations of Zimbabweans living abroad. In that endeavour, we will be able to come up with the exact record or records of Zimbabweans living abroad,” said Dr Musabayana.
“What we have also done with this diaspora initiative is, we are interacting with diasporans so that they know about the consular services that we provide and all our missions in the host countries. In that process, if there is any challenge that they have in the host country or the country that they are staying in, they will be able to contact us and we will be able to assist them. That is how far we have gone.”
He said following the violent protests in South Africa, no Zimbabwean has been reported to have died.
“As I have alluded to, the issue of Zimbabweans who are outside the country is important. We are in constant touch with our Ambassador in South Africa. From the start of the riots, we have been engaging each other. In those conversations, we are enquiring if there are our nationals caught in the riots. As of now, we do not have any casualties. If we come across any victims, we will help them with documentation so that they will be assisted in returning home,” he said.
Zimbabwe Community in South Africa chairman Mr Ngqabutho Mabhena said the policy under consideration would be very appropriate considering the challenges faced by Zimbabweans in the neighbouring country.
“We would welcome the drafting of a diaspora policy by the Zimbabwean Government because it might assist in responding to the various needs of Zimbabweans in South Africa particularly the question of documentation. We have so many migrants in South Africa who are not documented. It will also assist in ensuring investment opportunities for the diasporans back in Zimbabwe,” said Mr Mabhena.
He said as it stands, almost 200 000 Zimbabweans under the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits are living in uncertainty as their permits are due to expire at the end of the year.
“Outside the holders of these special permits, we have other Zimbabweans who are not documented. So, there is always a question to say what is the role of the Zimbabwean Government in assisting the Zimbabweans in South Africa to be documented in liaison with the South African government,” he said.
Mr Mabhena said there are Zimbabweans who do not even have Zimbabwean documents living in South African who need to be assisted with national documents. Chronicle