Zimbabweans living in Botswana have expressed cynicism about returning to their native country following a passionate plea made by the visiting President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa during his recent visit here. The 75-year-old Mnangagwa, who succeeded former Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe during a historic transition at the tail end of last year, was in the country on a two-day state visit from February 11 to February 12. During his state visit, Mnangagwa appealed to thousands of nationals who fled economic decline and political turmoil to return home and help rebuild the nation following the fall of Mugabe and his cronies. Mnangagwa told Zimbabweans at an interactive session with Zimbabweans living here that they are in this diamond rich nation because of in particular economic challenges that beset the neighboring country. “I appeal to you to come to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is your home, you are welcome (back),” he said just over two months after Mugabe tendered his resignation under popular pressure and as he faced impeachment. According to Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe is in a desperate need of the skills and experience Zimbabweans have acquired in the diaspora, as the rebuilding exercise of the former breadbasket of Africa roars into life. However, Zimbabweans here are seemingly not convinced of the political and economic improvements taking shape in the neighboring country since the cleanliest ever coup launched on Mugabe that forced him to tender his resignation on November 21 last year.
A random survey conducted on the streets of Francistown has established that the Zimbabweans are not ready to return home anytime soon. Zimbabweans here said the economic prospects in their native country are still at their embryonic stage. “Going back to Zimbabwe to do what?” rhetorically asked Tendai Mupirasango, a bush mechanic plying his trade on an open space between Monarch Primary School and Botsalano Clinic in the notorious location of Monarch. Another Zimbabwean, Marvin Murombedzi (40) said unemployment is still rife in the neighboring country. He said the government is still trying to come up with initiatives that can create the much-needed job opportunities in Zimbabwe. “Income generating opportunities are very limited. Almost everyone is into informal sector and who is going to buy from the other in a country whose cash circulation is as good as none existent,” said Murombedzi, a panel beater at the Francistown Light Industrial Area. Scores of Zimbabwean maids and herdboys said they are still sticking around until things have strongly shaped up in Zimbabwe. “We are to implement a wait and see approach until everything has fallen into place in our country. It is our beloved country, but it is yet to be as beloved as it should be,” one maid said.