I fully support MDC party National Chairperson Mr Lovemore Moyo's call for the diaspora vote. Any election that Zimbabwe will stage will not be free and fair if the Zimbabweans that are based outside the country are not allowed to exercise their right to choose the next government. If the despotic regime of Robert Mugabe goes ahead without the vote of Zimbabweans based outside the country the result will be challenged as it will not be a true representation of the wish of people. There are provisions made by the illegal government of Robert Mugabe to enable soldiers and diplomatic staff based outside Zimbabwe to vote, the same provisions can be extended to cater for millions of Zimbabwe many whom have been forced by this regime to abandon their homes in search of refugee outside Zimbabwe. Already millions that are in exile feel helpless as events unfold in Zimbabwe, they watch from the sidelines unable to contribute to bring change in Zimbabwe. If we are allowed to vote it will mark our only notable contribution and bring the much needed change in Zimbabwe. While Moyo is spot on on the call for the diaspora vote a lot is needed from Zimbabweans if change is needed in Zimbabwe.
While those trapped in Zimbabwe continue to feel the brunt of the evil regime of Robert Mugabe, it bothers me that the majority of Zimbabweans in the diaspora remain apathetic to the situation in Zimbabwe. While there is notable activism to those that are dedicated to a new Zimbabwe, my comrades in the MDC, Free-Zim Youth, The London & Bristol Vigils, The Forum...amongst the few. Despite the noble and sometimes heroic efforts of those that still care about Zimbabwe, there are those that are here in the diaspora that cannot be bothered about Zimbabwe or its politics. Nobody knows the exact population of Zimbabwe but if estimates are correct then there are almost 4.5 million Zimbabweans living outside the country out of population of 13 million people. Of the 4.5 mill, 500 000 are estimated to be based in UK, and the rest divided amongst South Africa, US, Australia, New Zealand and others scattered in various parts of the world. A while ago Lance Guma of SW Radio Africa covered this issue arguing that Zimbabweans are found in droves at musical concerts but a few would turn for political meetings.
This apathy is not fueled by lack of information about the state of affairs in Zimbabwe, the internet is awash with Zimbabwean news sites, but rather on the short-term solutions to the economic crisis that has paralyzed Zimbabwe. Most Zimbabweans based in the UK feel as long as they are working they can sustain their families by remittances of foreign currency. Its a flawed view as it for starters a very selfish solution, its has short term gains as it cannot be sustained over a longer period of time. Its a false sense of security as it only addresses immediate cash needs, for instance you can send say £50 to your family, at today's exchange rate its equivalent to Z$22 250 000, it does not guarantee service, if your beloved falls sick they can afford the ambulance fee but what of if the service is unavailable as it is now in Zimbabwe you will have to rely on hiring a local cab again that depends whether they can get fuel. While it can be argued but never substantiated that the life will remarkedly improve as a result of remittances from abroad it fails to address issues such as lack of fuel, the scarcity of basic food like maize meal, flour, cooking oil, sugar, the collapse of the health sector, the dangers posed by water borne diseases, the breakdown of urban infrastructure. There are many websites offering free-view decoder that picks up extra channels without the need for satellite subscription for your beloved to escape the boredom of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation's propaganda but with sporadic electricity supply in Zimbabwe the flat screen TV you send them and the M-Net subscription might not be enough, you will have to look into sending them a generator, but then again with chronic shortages of fuel the generator might not even run. Remittances are excellent if there is a vibrant economy, not when 90% of the population is unemployed, inflation at unprecedented 8000% the highest in the world, add the current artificial shortages of basic goods exacerbated by terror economics. So the idea that I'm fine as long as I sent money to Zimbabwe should be dispelled here and forwith.
Whatever comforts that one can enjoy in the diaspora home is always home. The fact that one day most of the people based outside Zimbabwe will want to go back home means that their contribution in bringing change in Zimbabwe should not only be limited to financial remittances. The atmosphere alone in most host countries should encourage more Zimbabweans to become political active, with the democratic freedoms we should be seeing an avalanche of activism. During apartheid the global Anti-Apartheid movement was a force to reckon with, it bothers me why with so many Zimbabweans in exile why we cannot emulate that and firmly put Zimbabwe case on the conscience of millions who in turn can lobby their governments to help bring change in Zimbabwe. While many arm-chair activists are quick to analyse and offer their punditry blaming Tsvangirai, saying MDC has failed, the question right now is not what others have done for you, what have you done for Zimbabwe?