Harare — A delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Zimbabwe, led by Principal Director of Economic Cooperation, Trade and Tourism Directorate Major General Thando Madzvamuse (retired), was in the Philippines for a two-day study tour (26 -28 March 2019) to learn about the Philippines’ experience and expertise on labor migration and diaspora management.
Accompanied by representatives from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – the UN Migration Agency, the delegation visited the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and received a briefing from Executive Director Enrico T. Fos of the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs on the various aspects of Philippine migration, particularly the guiding principles, legal frameworks governing migrant protection policies and programs of the Philippines.
Ambassador Enrico T. Fos, the Executive Director Office of the Undersecretary for Philippines Migrant Workers Affairs indicated that of the approximately 108 million Philippines population, about 10 million are migrants. “88 foreign missions in about 60 countries have specific mandate of preserving the national security and integrity as well as the protection of nationals abroad. The protection of nationals abroad is very key to the Foreign Service of Philippines, embassies do more than just consular services,” said Ambassador Fos.
The Government of Zimbabwe was encouraged to work on a deliberate strategy to both protect the diaspora and engage them for mutual benefit. This will in turn unlock opportunities for trust and cooperation in other areas such as investment.
The role of diasporas drives increasing interest among stakeholders in areas such as development, poverty reduction, economic growth, trade or post-crisis recovery. Opportunities are being sought to increase collaboration with diaspora communities in realizing their own aspirations and assisting them to maximize their potential to development.
Discussions that followed the briefing with the Zimbabwean delegation included strategies to encourage diaspora participation in economic development through investment of remittances, as well as approaches to promote better government-to-diaspora engagement.
The delegation also visited the Philippine Overseas Employment Association, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas to gain more perspectives on the subject.
Over the past decades, the size of the Zimbabwean diaspora has steadily grown. Anecdotal sources estimate that between, 500 000 to 3 million Zimbabwean diasporas are living in host countries such as South Africa, Botswana, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, among other destinations contributing to the workforce population of their host countries.
“The Government of Zimbabwe has prioritized the development of policies and initiatives aimed at engaging the Zimbabwean diaspora and actively promote their participation in economic, social and cultural development.” Said Foreign Affairs and International Trade Principal Director, Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Thando Madzvamuse.
Madzvamuse added that for the best practices and effective implementation of the diaspora policy, it was necessary that a look and learn visit be conducted to countries that have successful experience, such as the Philippines. It is noted that, the Filipino Government has instituted an array of programs and services aimed at empowering and nurturing ties between the Philippines and its diaspora.
Whilst out-migration has had a negative impact on the human capital base of the country, it is widely acknowledged that as Zimbabwe’s economic and political climate transitions, the skills base that is in the diaspora will play an important role in addressing skills gaps and contributing to the development of economies in form of economic and social remittances.
Since 2009, the Government of Zimbabwe with support from IOM, has spearheaded a number of diasporas focused programmatic, policy and institutional interventions. These include the development and adoption of a National Diaspora Policy, and the establishment and operationalization of a Diaspora Directorate charged with coordinating all diaspora related issues in consultation with responsible line Ministries. After extensive stakeholder consultations, the diaspora policy seeks to provide a comprehensive framework and reference point for recognizing the potential of the Zimbabwean diaspora in national development.
The study tour was supported within the implementation frameworks of IOM Development Fund project “Strengthening the Institutional Capacity of the Zimbabwean Diaspora Directorate for Increased Diaspora Engagement”, and the “Promoting Migration Governance in Zimbabwe” project under the 11th European Development Fund.
(Additional Reporting from Africanews Agency)