Johannesburg - Reviving the ailing Zimbabwean economy requires considerable input and cooperation from the millions of its citizens based abroad, particularly in South Africa, according to Johannesburg-based Zimbabwean entrepreneur and businessman Edwin Anderson.
"I would like to say to my fellow countrymen, let us remember our roots," he said at an awards ceremony attended by representatives of the Zimbabwe embassy in South Africa, academia, and musicians on Saturday night.
"For Zimbabwe to be the Zimbabwe we want, we have to be the Zimbabweans that are agents of change. I'm not talking about regime change, but I'm saying Zimbabwe can never reach its full potential unless if we nurture it, or contribute financially and with our skills," Anderson said at the event in Sandton, Johannesburg.
"We are here in South Africa to learn, so that whatever we have learnt, we can replicate, improving on it and put Zimbabwe on the world map. We do not want to bring Zimbabwe to its former glory, but to make it a global leader."
Anderson's Zororo-Phumulani company is a leading funeral insurance products and repatriation service provider across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
South Africa has become home to millions of Zimbabwean nationals who are the largest group of immigrants. Many Zimbabweans are involved in small businesses or studying, while others are informal employment.
Harare suffered decades of economic downturn under the despotic rule of Robert Mugabe, which resulted in hyperinflation, unprecedented shortages of basic commodities, political instability, and a massive exodus of skilled and unskilled citizens who migrated to countries including South Africa, Botswana, Britain, and Australia.
On Saturday, Zimbabwe's ambassador in South Africa David Hamadziripi said the new government headed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa embraced the role being played by the diaspora in the developmental trajectory of the small Southern African nation.
"Back home, the government recognises that you, as the Zimbabwe diaspora, have a significant role to play in the development of the country. An organised and coordinated diaspora is a much more effective partner in the desired engagement and dialogue that government wants to have with you," Hamadziripi told the gathering.
"Let us not wait for occasions like tonight to demonstrate our oneness. Let us come together in whatever associations or groups we prefer and through them make more impactful contributions to our communities here and back home."
Hamadziripi emphasised that in focusing on developing their home country, Zimbabweans in South Africa should not negate playing positive roles within their host nation.
"We are aware that many among you are doing tremendous work and making critical contributions to the general development of this country [South Africa]. We are proud of you and we thank you for giving Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans a good name. Continue to do so even though not enough public credit is given to your positive contributions," he said.
Hamadziripi appealed to the Zimbabwean community in South Africa to get proper documentation through the consulates in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The ambassador was accompanied by his deputy Mietani Chauke and Johannesburg consul general Henry Mukonoweshuro.
African News Agency (ANA)