This photo was taken last week and shows the shelves full once again. Some say this is the extent to which the diaspora can help and that the capital projects needed to restart production and an economic turnaround are beyond them.
We were sitting at a well-known local hotel this evening when one of the guys brought up the subject of the article on the Zimbabwe diaspora, which is in today's Zimbabwe Independent.
Some of us at the table had not read the piece, so a copy was brought out and the bone of contention revealed. Jess read it out.
By the time she was half way through, it appeared as though everybody in the room was now standing around our table.
Nothing I have seen in recent memory compares to what then ensued just in terms of the passions that were unleashed.
One group said the Zimbabwe diaspora is not really a force to reckon with and it would be a mistake to single them out for any special expectation with regards to the economic turnaround.
The argument says they have been remiting money all along but that money has failed to make a dent in Zimbabwe's problems. As one guy who says he works at a car dealership said, "It's sustenance money", meaning that the contribution from the diaspora is enough only to meet consumptive needs.
He points out that right now, this is what Biti faces: just enough money to keep the Zimbabwe government ticking over, but absolutely, woefully inadequate for the heavy capital expenditure that Zimbabwe needs to get back on her feet.
On the other hand, another group contented that the diaspora money is significant. Without it, they said, the country would have collapsed completely, but the diaspora helped ensure that petrol, diesel and other imports continued to trickle into Zimbabwe, preventing a complete meltdown.
What is needed, they argued, is simply to organise and channel those efforts, perhaps bring together the different groups and encourage them to set up a single, well-capitalised company that could then be a viable entity even on a regional scale.
As most of you reading this know, I am totally against the idea of a government playing around with the markets, let alone playing God with them, creating behemoths that would be breeding grounds for favour-currying, corruption and greed.
Government has no business doing business, full stop.
Still, we have chosen to live by the tyranny of the majority, otherwise known as democracy, so the voice of the many would carry the day in the end.
I am sorry to admit that I did leave before the conversation was concluded, I had an errand to run. But still, it was an engaging enough conversation that just I wanted to share it and hear what the people out there think. It is time for the majority to exercise its tyrannical rights!!
So, of the two positions, which would you take? Can Zimbabwe not do with its diaspora if it is to achieve an economic turnaround? And, more importantly, why?
I hope we will not see anything like the debate we see now around STERP, where people simply have blind faith in the thing yet fail to answer a simple question: name at least three policy measures proposed by STERP that would have an impact on job creation and infrastructural rehabilitation. Your answer must not include the words West, Aid, Help, Donor(s), IMF or World Bank. That is not policy. It's called begging.
And a bit of a brain teaser: what exact phrase would sound inspiring if said by Winston Churchill, but chilling when said by Robert Mugabe? Answer: "We shall never surrender."