Finance Minister Patrick Chinamsa told parliament that remittances from the diaspora have declined by 15% from US$458m in 2015 to US$388m in 2016. Delivering his midterm fiscal plan, Chinamasa expressed worry that Zimbabweans living in foreign countries are remitting less money than they used to.
Chinamasa quickly called for the government to implement the diaspora policy which seeks to mobilise resources from Zimbabweans living outside the country amongst other strategies.
He said the decline in remittances might be due to Zimbabweans using informal transfer channels. People have been failing to get money from money transfer agents such as Western Union due to the acute cash shortage affecting the county.
The decline in remittances is not surprising considering that government continues to view Zimbabweans living outside the country as second class citizens who are not allowed to vote.
Announcements by government that Zimbabwe will start using bond notes has prompted many Zimbabweans to stop sending some of the money that they were remitting which was meant for projects back home.
Patrick Katiyo who lives in the United Kingdom told this publication that he had been sending back home some money for order financing but most of the businesses were no longer paying in time meaning he would be left with huge interest payments in the UK.
“I used to send money to finance some orders that locals were failing to finance but now the debtors don’t pay back and I am not sure about how the bond note scenario will unfold” he said.
Despite Chinamasa expressing concern over the decline of remittances , there appears to be discord within the government after Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri poured scorn on Zimbabweans living abroad.
Chihuri was questioning why Zimbabweans in the diaspora were getting involved in the protests that have engulfed Zimbabwe in the last few months.
“If the situation was greener in the Diaspora, people there wouldn’t be complaining, I am telling you. They are complaining because the situation there is tough. Why, if it is all that rosy where they are. Should they be talking about where they are not?
“You got a chance. You’re there (so) why do you complain about what’s happening here? It’s a clear indication that the situation is tough,” said Chihuri.