Zimbabwe Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube says diaspora remittances have now overtaken foreign aid in the amount of money being contributed to the country’s economy.
Zimbabweans in the diaspora last year sent home a total of $1 billion, the highest ever contribution made to the local economy.
Ncube said the remittances surpassed the previous year’s amount of $635.7 million. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had projected diaspora remittances to be $940 million last year.
“It has gone very well for us in terms of remittances from our own diaspora abroad. Whereas you know, last year, we received $1 billion, which is a record inflow,” he said.
The minister added the increase in remittances was possibly due to the use of formal channels that remained operational during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Maybe some of it has to do with the fact that, the diaspora had to use formal channels because of Covid-19. So, we saw an increase due to that. But really, that just shows you it is a steady inflow of external resources into the economy and is targeted to families for investment. So it’s a good amount of influence,” he said.
Ncube told journalists the remittances were also on the rise in other African countries and importantly had overtaken foreign aid.
“In fact what is happening all over Africa is that diaspora remittances have overtaken foreign aid. In almost all countries, remittances have overtaken foreign aid as the largest inflow into the economy to support vulnerable families because that is what the diaspora do. They support their families.”
Leader of the African Diaspora Global Network, a migrant-rights organization based in South Africa, Vusumuzi Sibanda, said Ncube’s statistics indicated how much people in the diaspora worked hard to support their families back home.
“Most of the households now have at least one sibling or relative in the diaspora, and as a sign of Ubuntu, they have to send help back home. They have to because the Zimbabwean economy is harsh for locals, which is the reason why people seek greener pastures elsewhere,” he said.
“In as much as we praise those in the diaspora, it’s sad that Zimbabweans now have to survive on money coming from outside. This also shows how hard it is for migrants who have to work hard, some having several odd jobs to make ends meet.”