Zambia’s Sata Lays Into ‘Diasporans’; Lessons For Zimbabweans?

Zambian President Michael Sata lashed out at Zambian diasporans for leaving the country in the lurch at a meeting in Botswana.

In a meeting in Gaborone where Zambians working the Botswana made requests fore representation on issues of access to land, money and water, President Sata was having none of it.

He was critical of Zambians who boasted about working in Botswana, saying that they were more interested in addressing the ills of Botswana rather than helping their own relatives back home. He said Zambians who wanted benefits back home needed to move back there and work to get them.

Sata also laid into those who said they could do better than the people back home, saying that as long they excluded themselves from making the difference in Zambia they would be irrelevant.

Now this has become a cause for debate among some on social media circles. Some felt that Sata was harsh and insensitive to the needs of his countrymen abroad. Another lot said that he was right. Those who should benefit from the work back home should be on the ground.

There are some parallels with Zimbabwe which has a large diaspora. The majority of them left as economic refugees. Some made lives for themselves abroad. A significant section of them remain critical of the country; some with the capacity to reinvest in the country refuse to do so, saying the situation is not right yet. Meanwhile, the Chinese have come in and the same group has been in the forefront of the nay-sayers. Yet they want guarantees that the Chinese did not demand.

The question becomes, if those Zimbabweans are waiting for things to turn around here, who do they expect to do the work, only for them ride the crest of a wave. Don’t get me wrong, they remain Zimbabweans and they will remain as relevant to things on the ground on the basis of their level of investment in the country. Shouting from the rooftops about everything that they perceive to be wrong isn’t going to solve anything.

To make the difference, they have to be part of the growth. Imagine if all the engineers, businessmen, executives, teachers, nurses, doctors, programmers and the works were back here. Imagine the difference that human capital could make towards changing this country and moving it forward.

As it stands, they will remain Zimbabweans and, because they have that right, without question. However for things that are more concrete, they have to be here.

Source: Lusaka Times

Read the blow-by-blow of what happened at the meeting with Sata by clicking here

  • Mbonisi

    I think it is a bit short sighted of local Zimbabweans sometimes to always bash on those who are abroad. There is also a need to celebrate having representatives in far reaches of the world, raising the flag high. Often, people who criticize diasporans so much have never left (which is not always because of choice), and hence have no understanding of the times we cry ourselves to sleep wishing we were back home but cant, because of the very same local Zimbabweans we sometimes support. It is time people aknowledge that for some, most of the time is spent showcasing their cultural heritage and pride in Zimbabwe (whether they are home or not) and some of those tourists you see are recommended by Zimbabweans. Please, give some of us a bit of credit. We fly our flag high all the time. The reason some Zimbabweans do not come back is because they are made to feel like outsiders once they are back. Not everyone is an economic refugee out here. There are ambassadors, students and cultural activists.