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Farewell Event for ZDNNA Chairman

At the end of February 2014, ZDNNA hosted a farewell event for Dr. Norbert Mugwagwa, the current organization Chairman, who retired from the World Bank in February 2014 and relocated to Zimbabwe at the end of March. The farewell was held in Gaithersburg, Maryland and attended by about 50 people including ZDNNA members and other well-wishers.

Dr. Mugwagwa has worked for the World Bank for the last 23 years and has held senior level positions managing various programs in Africa and East Asia. He joined the Bank in 1990 mid-career having occupied positions as Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Population Program and Director of Planning and Nutrition in the Ministry of Health in Zimbabwe. Dr. Mugwagwa holds a PhD in public sector planning and management from the University of Aston in Birmingham, UK.

At the time he retired, he was an Operations Adviser of the Education Sector at the World Bank in Washington, DC.

At the Farewell, Dr Mugwagwa (second from left) poses for a photo with ZDNNA members.

At the Farewell, Dr Mugwagwa (second from left) poses for a photo with ZDNNA members.

Dr. Mugwagwa played a key role in the founding and shaping of ZDNNA and has been instrumental in leading the organization to its current standing. After the formation of ZDNNA, he spearheaded the founding and creation of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Home Interface Program (ZIDHIP) and became one of the coordinators of the program. His relocation back to Zimbabwe will provide timely support for strengthening ZIDHIP and consolidating the home front activities and linkages to the Diaspora.

Dr. Mugwagwa continues as Chairperson until transitional arrangements are put in place for a new constitution and elections. Though he will be greatly missed by us in North America, we are confident that the leadership foundation that he has laid has provided ZDNNA with a pedestal upon which to expand and grow. Farewell, Shumba yeMhazi!

Know the ZDNNA Constitution

To enable our readers the chance to review (and talk about) the new ZDNNA constitution, we will occasionally post different aspects of the ZDNNA constitution. To get the ball rolling, we are starting with article viii which looks at ZDNNA Chapters and how they relate to the organization. For a full review of the ZDNNA constitution, click here.

Article VIII :Chapters.

“As outlined in Article IV, Section 2, members of ZDNNA with common interests may form Chapters which in turn would constitute Regions. ZDNNA Chapters are geographic, sector or subject specific. Chapters are affiliated entities to ZDNNA and shall be governed by the guiding principles and code of conduct of ZDNNA. Members of Chapters can legally constitute themselves into investment vehicles, savings clubs, socio-cultural entities, health, and education services.”

ZDNNA Road Shows and Strategies for Mobilization

By Esau J. Mavindidze

Esau J. Mavindidze

In order to raise the awareness of Zimbabweans in the USA about the Zimbabwe Diaspora Network North America (ZDNNA) and garner support for its activities, ZDNNA officers have decided to take to the road and start a dialogue with Zimbabweans in the USA. The Road Shows and meetings are meant to mobilize support for the ZDNNA and Zimbabwe Diaspora Home Initiative Program (ZIDHIP) initiatives and solicit participation in planned activities.

The first such meeting was held in the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina, where ZDNNA launched its first chapter. The Carolina experience has given the officials some munition for what to expect and an opportunity to think through the best ways and format for engaging with local communities to sell the idea of the network.

Michigan is intended to be the next stop because a group of people, under the direction and leadership of Dr. Mambo Mupepi, have already created interim structures for a ZDNNA Michigan chapter. Dr. Mupepi is in the ZDNNA Working Group and has coordinated the planning and formation of the Michigan Chapter. ZDNNA officials, including the Chairman, Dr. Norbert Mugwagwa, the sitting Treasurer, Mr. Golden Makusha, and Engineer Phillip Bamu, who is also a member of the Working Group, are travelling to Michigan to officiate the launching of the Chapter at a date yet to be decided. Esau Mavindidze who coordinated the North Carolina meetings and is an active member of the Working Group, is also scheduled to attend the launch and help in planning the meeting format and in defining mobilization strategies.

In North Carolina, ZDNNA teamed up with Durham–North Carolina based Solutions Generators Network, which facilitated the meetings and seminar using Dynamic Facilitation (DF). DF proved to be an invaluable tool for facilitating the group of about 50 Zimbabweans who gathered at Duke University to hear about ZDNNA. The discussion format was designed to allow participants to first discuss concerns and issues with regards to networking and engagement with Zimbabwe before presentations could be made by the ZDNNA officials. After the presentations, the platform was opened up for more discussions, and the participants’ issues and concerns were addressed.

ZDNNA intends to use this format for group discussion as the roadshows take shape and more chapters are launched. The North Carolina meetings showed that pre-meeting communication with the wider community is critical to ensure readiness and to create free spaces for people to voice their concerns and ultimately to create the type of chapter that the community will define through participation. Documents such as the group constitution and other materials that explain objectives, mission and planned activities can be circulated in advance before meetings. That way, by the time the meetings are convened, attendees will have grasped meaningful background information to understand the purpose of the meeting and get an idea of the desired outcome. The idea is to let the local communities get involved as early as possible so that they can define the issues they see as important and feel some ownership for the chapter creation process.

Proponents of Dynamic Facilitation usually include wisdom councils as an initial stage for community engagement. In Wisdom Councils, randomly selected people in a specific community meet with a facilitator to identify key issues and work on them creatively. The participants are then able to come to a unanimous consensus around an issue of community interest and then present back the message to the larger community from where the council is originally sampled. These people can then represent a voice of the people that genuinely reflects their interests and collective wisdom. Wisdom Councils can be used at the earlier stages of planning to engage a community.

ZDNNA is also looking into incorporating the concept of Foundation Builders, where selected individuals within a given community are approached to solicit their buy-in and support for a cause. These individuals are then enlisted to become the backbone of an organization as a key source for providing resources and building the capacity to ensure continuity. Unlike the early engagement required for Wisdom Councils and other methods of community engagement, it makes sense to engage Foundation Builders when the parameters of the organization are already in place after which sponsorship is then sort from these targeted people within the community or from friends of that community. Ideally, these people can be invited to a few events such as independence celebrations or other local community functions, then after they see the level of community involvement, a meeting with them can be organized to initiate the sponsorship proposal. Foundation Builders advance the overall cause of an organization through continued financial and/or material support.

Overall, mobilizing people for support or buy-in to a cause can be a daunting task because it has to include different levels of engagement and enlisting participation. At an early stage in the process of mobilization, it is important to enlist collaboration – to share ideas, passions and experiences as a form of relationship building and engagement to ensure community readiness for an idea. Those advancing the idea have to think through how best to involve their particular community in a manner that is consistent with what they want to achieve, but also open to community feedback and with flexibility to shift towards meeting specific needs of the community.

ZDNNA is still in its formative stages, but has the advantage of a core group of very active people with a solid vision for where to take the network. There are interesting times ahead and a strong possibility for building a dynamic network and a lasting legacy.

We look forward to meeting many of you on the road!

Placing the ZDHIP/ZDNNA Message in Blogosphere

ZDNNA Chairman and ZDHIP Coordinator, Dr. Norbert Mugwagwa recently published an article for The World Bank Voices Blog articulating how Diaspora Zimbabweans can contribute to development in Zimbabwe. The article entitled, Zimbabwe: How Can the Diaspora Contribute to Development can be read at The World Bank Voices Blog.  We encourage our members and other readers to visit the page and make contributions to the discussion. Contributions can be made by entering comments on the space provided at the bottom of the article.

ZDNNA Hosts 34th Zimbabwe Independence Celebrations

On April 18, 2014 ZDNNA hosted and celebrated Zimbabwe Independence day in the DMV area of Washington, DC. This is the second year that ZDNNA has organized the event. For the 2014 event, the ZDNNA organizing committee was under the chairmanship of Engineer Bamu and included Wilson Magaya, Eusoph Kanyenda, Marcey Guramatunhu, with the guidance of the Acting Chairman and Treasurer, Golden Makusha. The independence celebrations are always organized in conjunction with the Embassy of Zimbabwe, which sent the Head of Mission, Mr. Chibuwe to show solidarity with ZDNNA. The event proceedings included a raffle draw, courtesy of South African airways, which provided two return air tickets to be drawn for the benefit of ZDNNA membership attending the event. Also included in the itinerary was Zimbabwean Gospel Super Star, Tembalami, who performed as a guest at the event. The Independence event has also become a mobilizing opportunity for ZDNNA. A number of people paid their membership joining fees on the spot pledging interest in ZDNNA activities. Dr. Mambo Mupepi brought with him 12 people from Michigan, who joined in the festivities. In addition to the South African Airways sponsorship, Zimfon, a VoIP service provider for the diaspora, also sponsored the event.

Now in its second year, the independence event is expected to be one of the annual signature events that ZDNNA will be hosting. In 2013, under the guidance of Dr. Godfrey Sikipa and Ms. Marcey Guramatunhu, ZDNNA organized a successful sit down formal dinner attracting people from as far as Georgia, North Carolina and Florida, in addition to the DMV area where the event was hosted. The keynote speaker for the 2013 event was the former Finance Minister, Tendai Biti.

ZDNNA Schools on Air Project (SOAP)

Zimbabwe Diaspora Network in North America—Education Sector’s (ZDNNA-ES) mission is to mobilize the Diaspora support and intervention in the educational development for Zimbabwe. Recognizing that Zimbabwe has suffered a significant brain drain, the Education Sector seeks to harness the Diaspora skills towards academic and vocational training in collaboration with the stakeholder institutions in Zimbabwe. The flagship of the ZDNNA-ES operations is the Schools On Air Project (SOAP) which is at an advanced stage in setting up a national educational radio broadcast primarily for schools. ZDNNA-ES is collaborating with Bindura University of Science Education and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary education.

ZDNNA-ES coordinator is Dr. Stanford Mukasa with Dr. Cleophas Tsokodayi serving as interim secretary. For more details about participation send an email to sgmukasa@comcast.net.

New ZDNNA Chapter for North Carolina

ZDNNA opened its first chapter in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina (NC) on March 8, 2014. After two vibrant meetings held at Duke University and attended by close to fifty people, a group of North Carolinians finally decided to form an NC chapter for ZDNNA.

ZDNNA is taking the network message on the road for membership mobilization, and NC was the first stop for such meetings targeted for more US cities.

“We are trying to mobilize membership in a manner that opens up debate and make the people who are joining feel that they have a role to play” says Esau Mavindidze who coordinated the NC meetings.

“The NC experience showed us that although Zimbabweans are generally interested in the idea of the network, they also have a lot of questions that they need answered before they can join,” Mavindidze added.

ZDNNA teamed up with North Carolina based Solutions Generators Network, which facilitated the meetings using Dynamic Facilitation, with Marilyn Hartman and Ruth Backstrom as facilitators. Dynamic Facilitation (DF) turned out to be an invaluable tool for both the meetings. The NC meetings showed that because of Zimbabwe’s history, these road show meetings are bound to generate excitement as well as bringing out emotions all at the same time. That there was a team of people making sure each of the participants could be heard and giving them space and time to be heard without interruption became an important part of the exercise.

Says Ruth Backstrom, one of the NC facilitators for the meetings, “DF invokes the practice of facilitating creative collaboration as a way to address a broad range of human concerns in community settings. It was originally designed to help groups apply creativity to practical issues, including ones in which people are highly invested or emotionally charged. In DF the facilitator reliably evokes the spirit of choice-creation in small groups of people to help them achieve unanimous perspectives on ill-defined seemingly impossible to solve issues”

Dr. Norbert Mugwagwa, Board Chairman of ZDNNA and one of the ZDNNA officials present at the first meeting concurs. In an email to NC attendees of the first meeting, he had this to say about DF:

“That Dynamic Facilitation approach is relevant, appropriate and has a universality that begs that we adopt it ‘yesterday’ for mobilizing our membership in different parts of the USA into Chapters and Regions. There is no substitute to asking people what they would like to see an organization like ZIDHIP/ZDNNA provide as a platform for you to share your views about what Zimbabweans in the diaspora should do for their country.  Capturing community perceptions on what they see as the challenges to being organized, why they are challenges and what they would like to do about addressing them is highly educative for the Facilitator and Resource persons as well as uniquely collectively self-cleansing for the participants. It persuades people to act and to feel the need to belong. On the other hand, for ZDNNA leadership, being a part of that discourse is a humbling experience. It allows one to learn first-hand how people view their circumstances and the depth of solutions that are inherent among communities and individuals if only one stops to listen!”

Among other things, the NC meetings generated a listing of questions and answers that will be useful for future roadshows and will be posted on the ZDNNA website. The ZDNNA NC Chapter has already constituted an interim team, and selected Hama Mutyavairi to be the interim Chairman.

nc-chapter

Part of the group of people who attended the North Carolina meeting at Duke University in Durham, NC.

2014 Zimbabwe National Budget Recognizes ZDHIP

The recently published 2014 Zimbabwe National Budget document mentioned the Zimbabwe Diaspora Home Interface Program (ZIDHIP) as the official recognized platform for formalizing dialogue between the Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) and the Diaspora. The document recognized ZIDHIP as the platform for pursuing discussion on the several engagement initiatives and policies that the Government could implement in order to grow Diaspora contribution to the home front. Among other things, the budget document says that government will articulate policy to guide Diaspora engagement, and promote investments by the Diaspora through tax and import duty incentives for targeted investments in manufacturing and other capital intensive industries. The document also mentions government’s intention to issue Diaspora Bonds for small scale hydro-electric schemes, and “for the Diasporans to participate in their economy through some of the opportunities arising out of the Indigenization policy program.”

The Minister’s announcement was preceded by intense consultations during the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings in Washington in October 2013, between him and the Diaspora that led to discussion between him and the patron of ZDNNA, Dr. Callisto Madavo and the ZIDHIP USA Node Executive of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Network North America (ZDNNA).

Zimbabwe Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa (third from left) with members of the ZDNNA team in Washington, DC, November, 2013.

Zimbabwe Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa (third from left) with members of the ZDNNA team in Washington, DC, November, 2013.

The build-up to these discussions was informed by the ZIDHIP Diaspora Summit held in Harare from August 29 to 30, 2013. The Harare Summit was attended by the Home-front, the USA Node as well as the Nodes under formation in the UK and South Africa while those in East Africa and Australasia were appraised of the deliberations.

Diaspora Engagement Policy Paper

A Diaspora Engagement Policy Paper was prepared by members of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Network North America (ZDNNA) in March 2013 and presented to the ZIDHIP Steering Committee and the Home-front Working Group. The Engagement Policy paper, co-authored by Pedzi Makumbe, Obert Pimhidzai, et.al, under the oversight of the ZDNNA Board Chairman, Dr. Norbert Mugwagwa, outlines major areas for engagement between the Diaspora and the Home-front and proposes specific policies that the Government of Zimbabwe can undertake to create meaningful linkages with its non-resident population. The document articulates the challenges that the proposed dialogue might face as well as the opportunities that exist for mutual benefit.

Zimbabwe has a Diaspora consisting of more than 3 million people living in countries ranging from South Africa to the United States of America. The Zimbabwe Diaspora contributes significantly to Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product through remittances that are mostly used to provide food, school fees, medical expenses, and other forms of support for family members in Zimbabwe. The policy paper proposes structuring of remittance transfer to include investing in businesses, transfer of skills, investment in land, and in other activities that can lead to the growth in gross domestic product, increasing employment, tax base for the government, and the opening up of markets and access to technology.

The document recommends:

  • recognizing and institutionalizing the role of the diaspora in improving livelihoods of Zimbabweans by ensuring representation of the diaspora, formalizing the platform for dialogue with State and Non State actors in the form of a Council for Diaspora Affairs and department within the President’s Office, and legislating for recognition of the diaspora;
  • promoting of investment by the diaspora through tax and duty incentives for qualifying investments in manufacturing and other capital intensive industry, and providing access to central and local government procurement needs;
  • enabling diaspora financial inclusion by relaxing banking requirements in order to entice the diaspora to send more resources home;
  • local governments interacting with Diaspora via the ZIDHIP/ZDNNA Website Portal to promote land development and housing and other procurement;
  • Participation in capacity building programs by State and Non State actors with skilled diaspora support including via ’think tanks’;
  • legislating for diaspora rights and privileges, including dual citizenship and representation by diaspora MP; and
  • intensifying ‘soft lobbying’ by the diaspora in the host countries which in turn requires the Government to recognize the diaspora as passionate advocates for their country as a tourism and investment destination.

Harare Diaspora Summit

The summit was organized by the Zimbabwe Diaspora Home Interface Program (ZIDHIP) coordinators and hosted at SAPES Trust from August 29 to 30,2013 in Harare. The summit was attended by State and Non-State actors and brought representatives of Diaspora nodes from the USA, UK, East and Southern Africa to meet with the Home-front for two days of consultations. The summit summed up the overriding goal of ZIDHIP as the promotion of convergence between the Diaspora and Home-front towards improving the livelihoods of Zimbabweans irrespective of their socio-political persuasions. The other objectives were to:

  • re-affirm the ZIDHIP common vision, objectives, priorities and plan of action;
  • promote convergence between Diaspora and Home-front aimed at improving the livelihoods of Zimbabweans;
  • promote reverse migration and involvement of Diaspora in development and growth of their home country;
  • forge an ‘a political’ and common understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the Diaspora Nodes and Home-front Units going forward as well as setting up an institutional framework to guide the interactions; and
  • propose basis for Engagement Policy while awaiting the formalization of the Government Team that would drive the policy dialogue with ZIDHIP/ZDNNA Nodes.

The conclusions were that:

  • the ZIDHIP objectives were timely, there is now need to put in place an institutional framework that is ‘willing to learn continually as the enabling environment unfolds;
  • open access to ZIDHIP would be key to success of Home-front set-up;
  • use of technology to include web portal;
  • wider representation would promote participation, which augurs well for voice and success;
  • establishment of the ‘skills locator and data base’ should be driven by self-reporting by the Diaspora themselves, however it should be linked to opportunities that are driven by the Home base of corporate/private companies, civil society, communes and entrepreneurs;
  • institutional set-up should have balanced representation between the Diaspora Nodes, State and Non-State Actors; and
  • Secretariat should be both facilitative and enabling, not bureaucratic.
diaspora-summit

Diaspora Summit Attendees at SAPPES Trust in Harare, August 2013

The summit was the first in what is expected to be an annual gathering between the Zimbabwean Diaspora and their counterparts on the Home-front. The meetings are expected to further the exchange of ideas, experiences and knowledge between the Diaspora and Home-front, and to collaborate in identifying investment opportunities and the creation of investment pathways as part of the processes for engagement.