Valueless Diaspora Bond to hit Zimbabweans in diaspora anytime

Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube


By Sibanengi Dube

So, the cash-strapped and legitimacy contested government of Zimbabwe is plotting again to smack millions of its citizens living outside Zimbabwe with a Diaspora Bond? 

Those slaving for their families overseas are anticipated to bankroll the ED’s administration government through a diaspora bond.

This scheme was presented before four years ago as diaspora tax but died a natural death after attracting global condemnation from citizens who have legitimacy and trust issues with the reigning gorillas.

Just like the diaspora bond, it is not clear how this diaspora bond will be enforced as Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube only made a half-baked announcement during a side meeting with investors at the United Nations General Assembly’s 77th session in New York.

“We want investment back home. How shall we do it? The first thing is that you can invest through a diaspora bond which we are going to issue in the next few months. We took a while putting it together and it’s now ready. You can invest through that bond. It’s very attractive,” said Ncube.

“We are also going to set up a structure where rather than sending money every month to your relatives, we can take the interest and pass it on to your parents. You invest once, after that you can look after your parents through interest. Investment is very safe in Zimbabwe.”

As to why Ncube expects Zimbabweans scavenging for their livelihoods in diaspora to buy into his shenanigans is nerve wrecking.  

Reacting to the announcement, a respected economic analyst, Victor Bhoroma said the initiative looked attractive on paper, but bad in real practice adding that government policies were not consistent.

“This looks attractive on paper but remember the diasporas have reservations with the formal banking system which lacks market confidence. So there are a number of things that need to be ironed out for such to work,” said Bhoroma.

How the dues are going to be enforced is esoteric. One will be forgiven to suspect that such a suggestion came from the unapprised Zanu PF MP, Joseph Chinotimba. Only the services of Tsikamutata can assist Ncube to sell such a bond note ‘gleefully’ banished and angry Zimbabweans who have been denied a life time opportunity to share their lives with their dear ones at home.

What seems to be emerging from Ncube ’skull is baffling. This learned chap expects disenchanted and disenfranchised Zimbabweans living abroad as second-class people to eco-cash foreign currency into the national coffers to get valueless bond notes. The chap fell short of releasing a government eco-cash number in New York when he made the announcement. Ncube needs to show us any fool in diaspora without brains between the ears who would prefer to punish parents with bond notes when an option to send the green buck is available. At any rate who will entrust their hard-earned cash in the hands of a Zanu PF government?

Advocate Gabriel Shumba Chairman of Zimbabwe’s largest organisation of Zimbabweans in exile, Zimbabwe Exiles Forums (ZEF) mourned the cohesive tone of the project which he dismissed as unattractive.

“If it is attractive, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. That having been said, Mthuli should obviously be alive to the fact that the Diaspora does not trust formal mechanisms because of their lack of predictability and transparency.”

The respected advocate added that such an initiative must be backed by a religious adherence to law to inspire confidence in the investors.

“They are used to countries where laws are not amended willy nilly and there is certainly and real in ones’ investment. That macroeconomic stability and confidence inspiring context is what has been lacking over ages,” said Shumba.

The ZEF boss told Zimbabwe Observer that it was ironic for the Zimbabwe Government to clamour for funds from the very citizens in diaspora they denied voting rights.

“It should also be recalled that the Zim government snubbed the Diaspora vote. The sentiment on the ground is that you can’t claim duties where you don’t accord rights,” said Shumba.

African Diaspora Global Network leader, Dr Vusi Sibanda warned that such a draconian move has the potential to trigger street protests.

“This government plundered everything down and they are now targeting soul saving foreign currency being sent home by children in diaspora to look after their parents. I see this as a step too far,” said Dr Sibanda.

It is not clear if the introduction of the diaspora bond note will come with threats against those who will shun the phony currency. Initially defaulters of the mooted diaspora tax were threatened with losing their citizenship and auctioning of their properties in Zimbabwe. Imagine! Feral measures like forfeiting the Zimbabwe citizenship to non-payers were also being considered. The government was even considering scoundrel measures of raiding foreign currency sent to families by their loved ones from Diaspora in the name of enforcing tax payments. It looks like the same approach will apply when the diaspora bond comes into circulation.

Isn’t this 100% rubbish? Is this what Ncube crafted with his inventors of this monetary policy? What have we done as Zimbabweans to deserve Ministers who think like Ncube? Don’t we deserve something better than this? Then no wonder why the country’s economy is in a comatose state. 

Where on earth has a government ever intercepted food stipends to parents from their children in diaspora? Such resolutions can only be made by cash-in-transit heist kingpins. Shockingly the enforcer of such a hyena predatory method of survival is none other than Professor Ncube, who was paraded as a panacea to Zimbabwe when he was handpicked from Davos by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to head the Ministry of Finance. Ncube has been in Diaspora for most of his adult life, running away from biting poverty in Zimbabwe due to Zanu PF’s mismanagement of the economy. Neither of his predecessors, Ignatious Chombo nor Patrick Chimamasa nor Tendai Biti taxed him for being in Diaspora or introduced such a funny façade currency to intercept money destined for his loved ones in Bulawayo.   A few years at the apex of the Finance Ministry, Ncube is glaringly in a rush to appease Ngwena who parachuted him to the Finance Ministry from ‘Egypt’.

The temptation is huge. Isn’t? Ncube is a brainy weird character without principles. When dearly departed Morgan Tsvangirai went into a Government of National Unity with the late dictator Robert Mugabe, he requested Ncube to accept an appointment as Ambassador of Zimbabwe to South Africa. Ncube who was heading the Wits University ’School of Business merrily accepted to be appointed whenever the opportunity arises. This writer was part of a delegation of Zimbabweans who met Ncube at Nando’s in Braamfontein to relay the message. The Chap seemed desperate for political bread from any source.

Now that he was offered a position by the other side it did not take him much time to fit in well and is now leading in singing from the Zanu PF hymnbook.

So, some Zimbabweans in diaspora might find themselves stateless for not heeding to Ncube’s call? What exactly do these guys start smoking as soon as they begin to fraternise with Zanu PF? Zimbabwe citizenship cannot be taken away from anyone born in Zimbabwe. It is a birth-right which is impossible to strip any Zimbabwean of.  We are made to believe that other governments tax their citizens eking a living in Diaspora. What they are not telling us is that the legitimacy of such governments is not in dispute. I want to believe that Zimbabweans are patriotic and would voluntarily pay tax to any legitimate government enjoying the mandate of the majority. The Croc’s government is limping from one legitimacy disaster to another. President Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF Presidency is also in dispute and is a subject of a court determination. It first came to life through an undisputed coup d’état. The last elections where the Zimbabwe Election Commission confessed to announcing incorrect results twice are too preposterous to merit even as a fleeting sneer.

–Sibanengi Dube is the Publisher of Zimbabwe Observer

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