Tuesday, July 22, 2008

(TALKZIMBABWE) Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum UK

Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum UK

THE Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum UK held its second meeting on 19th July, 2008 at Barking in London under the theme: Zimbabwe at the Cross Roads: Towards Re-Construction-Every Voice Matters!
Mon, 21 Jul 2008 22:08:00 +0000

THE Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum UK held its second meeting on 19th July, 2008 at Barking in London under the theme: Zimbabwe at the Cross Roads: Towards Re-Construction-Every Voice Matters!

The guest speakers were Dr Alex Magaisa a Senior Lecturer - Corporate & Financial Services Law, University of Kent at Canterbury and columnist for the Zimbabwe Standard and Newzimbabwe.com; Mr Jonathan Chawora the current Chairman of the MDC UK & Northern Ireland; and Mr Alfred Mutasa, a Zanu Pf supporter and an ex combatant. Dr Nkosana Moyo and Mr Itayi Garande who were meant to address the Forum could make it due to last minute circumstances which required them to be out of the country at the time.

Mr Chawora admitted MDC and Zanu PF were engaged in preliminary talks towards comprehensive dialogue which will hopefully lead to a lasting solution to the crisis.

He however expressed serious concerns about continuing violence being visited on members of his party in Zimbabwe as one of the impediments to serious dialogue to resolve the Zimbabwean conflict resulting from the hotly disputed Presidential run off election of June 27.

However, Mr Chawora told the Forum that, “Negotiations, by nature demand a process of give and take. Successful negotiations usually result in all sides to a dispute shifting positions that they originally bring to the negotiating table.” Mr Chawora promised to support progressive ideas that would come out of the meeting and lobby his party to consider them.

Mr Alfred Mutasa led the discussion on ‘Bridging the Political Divide’. He identified what he called some useful approaches that can inform the current talks. Mr Mutasa took the view that the Zimbabwean political actors and civil society should be informed by the nature of imperialism which has two tendencies namely militarization and neo-liberal globalization. He said that the calls for peace keepers in Zimbabwe by Bishop Desmond Tutu, Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga and President Khama is the manifestation militarization of the neo-liberal agenda by Britain and America under the guise of advancing democracy. Mr Mutasa urged the gathering that they should not under-estimate their ideas because they will have far reaching impact as was the case with the Diasporas before 1980.

Dr Magaisa urged Zimbabweans to desist from engaging in what he called “cry baby politics” and start seeing the opportunities that can and should be exploited. He said that while more sustainable Diaspora resources can only begin when the political environment improves and trust and confidence restored between the government and its citizens the Diaspora should be proactive and more organised.

Magaisa stressed the need for the Diaspora to devise ways through which it can make more substantive impact and have a stake in their own country’s economic assets beyond individual remittances.

Magaisa went on to suggest that a future progressive government in Zimbabwe could follow the examples set in countries like Ghana and the Philippines which have put in place policies for constructive engagement with the Diaspora, such as establishing a Ministry responsible for Diaspora affairs. Instead of seeing migration and the Diaspora as a problem, the government could create conditions for a mutually beneficial relationship but the Diaspora needs to represent itself otherwise it will remain on the periphery"

Informal and passionate discussions continued well after meeting and it was an opportunity for networking. Prior to the Forum a group of passionate Zimbabweans from diverse professional backgrounds through networking sought audience with the Chair Mr Peter Soko and constituted themselves into a Think Tank for the Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum UK which the Forum adopted at the end of the session.

This was significant development, and a sign that Zimbabweans are not waiting to be invited. The Think Tank is expected to report on its progress at the next public whose date will be fixed in due course. The need for some representative for the Diaspora in the Zimbabwean government dedicated to the Diaspora affairs is another idea that was well received and the Forum intends to lobby for it. The Think Tank is expected to liaise with the relevant stakeholders to consider mechanisms of how ideas can be carried forward in respect of both Economic and Social Investment.

Msekiwa Makwanya the interim Co-ordinator of the Forum remarked that the call for the Diaspora to be organised as Diasporas cannot be over-emphasised and the Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum UK remains committed to giving space for a non-partisan participation of Zimbabweans in the UK. He said that the Forum was impressed by the ideas expressed and the greater vision and aspirations expressed in the discussion will also inform the work of the Think Tank because every voice matters!

By Claudious Madembo
Programme Advisor
Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum UK

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