The marked rise in diaspora remittances into Zimbabwe actually does not signal economic growth – but, as a matter of fact, increased poverty.
Yet, it is always baffles the mind whenever the Zimbabwe government – each time they announce an increase in these remittances – always to do so with much excitement, as if this was some evidence of economic growth, due to sound policies.
It was no different this time around, with recently released figures showing that, so far this year, Zimbabweans in the diaspora had sent home about US$420 million.
Last year (2022), the total amount was US$1.66 billion – a significant increase from US$1.4 billion in 2021.
For anyone, especially an economist, to suggest this signals growth of the country’s economy – as has been widely reported, mainly in state-controlled media – is nothing short of a foolish attempt at stretching the limits of truth.
Is foreign currency entering our country a bad thing – more so, when there is a marked increase in the amounts? Certainly not!
Indeed, there are some in the diaspora who are sending money back home to invest in the economy, and for the construction of their private properties.
Any money coming into our economy is surely a wonderful thing – as long as this is done above board and honestly – which may include revenue from our exports.
However, a vast portion of the money being remitted to Zimbabwe from our diasporans is certainly not via exports of any goods and services.
It is mostly a result of severely impoverished Zimbabweans, who now depend on their friends and families earning a living in foreign lands – for their survival in a country that has been reduced into a disgraceful basket case by the ruling elite.
There is no other way of packaging, doctoring, or even spinning such a brazen unadulterated truth.
The perennially long queues at various money transfer agents across the breadth and width of the nation say it all – more than any words can.
In fact, there are more Zimbabweans to be seen at money transfer agents, than banks – since they have nothing saved up, and do not even earn a salary.
Furthermore, it is no longer surprising to learn of new money transfer players establishing operations in the country, nearly every few months or so!
Why would that be particularly surprising – when over half the population lives in extreme poverty (on less than US$1.90 a day), roughly 74% of the population earns below the poverty datum line?
When even our civil servants have the shameful indignity of being a part of those living in poverty – one can only imagine how much the rest of us, without any steady formal employment, manage to a pocket in a month.
This is a result of a ruling elite that believes are the only ones divinely entitled to a comfortable living – who have cruelly and selfishly looted the country’s vast resources for their own aggrandizement.
Whilst millions of ordinary Zimbabweans can not even afford the most basic of needs – especially with the highest inflation in the world (now nearing 800 per cent), driven by a freefalling useless local currency currently trading at ZW$3,500 to US$1 (at which most goods and services are pegged).
How, then, are we surviving in Zimbabwe?
Obviously, for those fortunate enough to have able and willing family and friends in the diaspora, they can to be queueing up outside such agents as World Remit, Money Gram, Mukuru, Western Union, and so many more, for some desperately-needed financial assistance.
Under such difficult circumstances, logic will dictate that – the more poverty-stricken Zimbabweans there are, the more the diaspora remittances.
Therefore, as much as any foreign currency entering Zimbabwe’s economy is most welcome, and will do some good for the country – let no one try to distort the deeper implications of an increase in diaspora remittance inflows.
We are a nation of impoverished people – who have been forced into begging for financial assistance from our loved ones in foreign lands.
What are citizens to do when
That is the blunt truth!
By Tendai Ruben Mbofana