‘Journos’ view from the diaspora’

HARARE - In the first part of a series of interviews with Zimbabweans now living in the diaspora, our Assistant Editor, Maxwell Sibanda, this week spoke to former journalists now based overseas on their perspective to the political, social and economic events in Zimbabwe; what they hoped for.

Henry Makiwa (former journalist with Daily News, now based in the UK)

You can list a thousand problems Zimbabwe faces at the moment but for me one that’s by far the most lethal is one of diminishing hope.

It’s telling that one of the most popular viral videos on social media in recent times – the Zvirikufaya craze - saw Zimbabwean in the diaspora recording skits of how their new-found homes away from home offered more than the land of their birth.

Although not a comprehensive study by itself, that was a convincing reference among many, of how the diasporan community has stunted confidence in the status quo in Harare.

If the millions of Zimbabweans abroad are to be harnessed as a source of expertise and economic capital in repairing the country, the government should invest in a deliberate programme that links itself to communities overseas.

In most countries, such as the UK, Australia and the US, there are already foundations of social groups and online communities of Zimbabweans that will pave a smooth start of such conversations.

There are massive assets of economic wealth, sporting talent, cultural ambassadors and brainpower at Zimbabwe’s disposal here.

If the Zimbabwean government offers a spark of hope and future for them, I believe we can see a turn-around in our beloved nation’s fortunes.

Vivian Maravanyika (former journalist with the Sunday Mail now based in UK)

A change of government is the only way forward. The problems that have beset Zimbabwe are so deeply rooted and entrenched so much that nothing but a change of custodianship will see any meaningful change.

The rhetoric churned by the same politicians’ year in and year out is so unbelievable.

How the masses don't see beyond that is dumbfounding. Maybe the people don't know any better or they have been so abused that they have simply given up.

How the present government has hung on to power for 35 years is straight from a dictatorship manual.

Things will not get better in Zimbabwe. The years when the country was operating at full capacity, with the infrastructure in place, all public amenities working, agricultural industry feeding the nation, jobs available and so forth are long gone. My generation will never live to see that Zimbabwe.

The people have lost hope with the political leadership so much that millions are looking for it somewhere – especially in the Church and its gospel of ‘prosperity’. Why is it we didn't have 100 000 people filling the stadia 15-20 years ago? Is it a coincidence that the proliferation of churches has been on the rise with poverty also on the ascendancy?

Here in the United Kingdom churches are being turned into nightclubs and in Zimbabwe nightclubs into churches.

The incumbent government will never take responsibility of being a major part of mismanaging the country leading to mass exodus of the people, brain drain, total collapse of the economy, closing down of industries, the dire health sector situation and abject poverty.

To many people in the diaspora, Zimbabwe for now remains nothing but a stop-over and at best a holiday destination.

Regis Nyamakanga (former journalist with Financial Gazette, now based in the region)

I think the economic challenges facing Zimbabwe are not insurmountable. If all Zimbabweans; politicians, business people, the general citizenry and the media; work together a solution to the current challenges could be found.

We need to move away from focusing on the little things that divide us as a people and focus on those things that unite us.

The media also needs to be patriotic and focus on the positive rather than dwell on the negative all the time.

Zimbabwe is not all doom and gloom the solution to the current challenges lies with us, only if we set aside our petty differences and focus on rebuilding our country. The time for doing that is now!

If we do not work together for the good of our country, the future generations will judge us harshly.

Chris Gande (former journalist with Daily News now based in US)

When it comes to politics there is a blurred divide between those in the Diaspora and those back home. For example, look at the MDC how it ended up reducing the power of the external provinces.

Those at home think that those in the Diaspora are arm chair critics who are enjoying the good life of the West while they are in the trenches toiling and facing the hardships on their behalf.

I think politicians are all being held captive by President Mugabe because I strongly believe that if he were to announce that he's stepping down, or God forbid something happens to him, the lethargic political wheels would spring into action, taking the country forward.

We would see the likes of Joice Mujuru and others who appear hesitant to get into the political fray coming out of the closet.

Therefore, I think our only hope is to appeal to those who are close to Mugabe to whisper in his ear that he has done his part now is the time to hand the baton to someone else. That is where our hope should be.

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