Zimbabwe Indigenisation law, all about Mugabe’s power, after all- Rashweat Mukundu
Zimbabweans, weighed down by the decade long economic and political crisis, now face another challenge in the proposed Indigenisation and Empowerment Act. The new law came in the absence of clear national objectives of what it is meant to achieve nor an appreciation of Zimbabwe’s current economic crisis, where creating stability not scare-mongering are key. It still baffles many why now, and pointers are that this is another weapon in ZANU PF armoury to confuse the current political set up, trap and plunge the citizens and the country into another crisis and the abyss.
Post 2000 ZANU PF cannot survive without a crisis and an enemy. At every turn when the party’s power is on the decline, a crisis is invented and an enemy to fight is found. It is important to note that the Zimbabwe indigenisation discourse is not a new issue. It has been running since 1980 and was the basis upon which the chaotic land reform was initiated. On the positive side in the 1980’s and 1990’s and in the absence of any law, successful black businesses were set up in the banking and telecommunications sectors with government’s support. These were new business that created jobs and wealth, they was no takeover of non Zimbabwean businesses. On the contrary many non Zimbabweans were flooding the country, setting up their own industries. It is necessary to give this background to demarcate economic empowerment from politicking. Without it, it will appear that Zimbabwe has had no indigenous businesses until the promulgation of the controversial Indigenisation and Empowerment Act. It is also important to link and demonstrate a continuum in ZANU PF’s political strategy, guised as empowerment. The chaotic land reform was the first project of the so called empowerment process and succeeded it trapping the mostly rural community in a cycle of political violence from which many have still not recovered from. More importantly for ZANU PF, the party created a land owning oligarchy that is prepared to prop up the party. In the words of Zimbabwe’s Prisons Commissioner Retired General Paradzai Zimhondi, he is prepared top take up arms to defend his peace of land, and indeed to defend ZANU PF. ZANU PF assertion that the land reform was a success and benefited 500 000 families is far from the truth. On the contrary the land reform created over one million landless, unemployed, destitute Zimbabweans, mostly former farm workers. If the land reform was meant to be benefit Zimbabweans then surely the one million unemployed, destitute farm workers should have been resettled and supported to be productive farmers. 10 years down the line 5 million of Zimbabwe’s population still relies on food aid despite the ‘thousands’ of new farmers. It is important to give this background to the land reform as the indigenisation act follows this well known ZANU PF strategy of relying on a racial discourse to advance its political agenda. This discourse started with white farmers and was extended to include farm workers and in 2005 was extended to urban workers and dwellers ‘without totems’ or proper Zimbabwean identity when millions more were made homeless under a supposed urban clean-up operation, ‘Operation Restore Order’..
While ZANU PF always couches its so called economic empowerment programmes in language of anti-colonialism and black empowerment it must be noted that this is only a disguise for a politically self-serving, fierce and often violent reordering of society as part of what the ruling elite refers to as resolving injustices of the colonial era. This ideology is based on a belief that the nation state should be identified through one political culture as defined by ZANU PF. These projects from the land reform, to operation restore order and the indigenisation ac are therefore all linked to entrench ZSANU PF's hegemony and ward off any threats to its hold on power. The Indigenisation is he new strategy in preparation for a new election at the end of he Government of National Unity. What the land reform programme succeeded in doing was to create internal refuges that have no capacity to challenge the system or participate in many national processes such as elections. Indeed many of the farm workers lost not only their employment but citizenship. The indigenisation law is a therefore a second act of Zimbabwe’s political drama, again couched in the same language of anti- imperialism and black economic empowerment. This new law is an attempt to bribe the young generation, so that like the older generation trapped in the land reform discourse, the youth can equally be trapped in the language of indigenisation, thereby propping ZANU PF. The current struggle in the Zimbabwe Government of National Unity on the need to reform the law is centred on how to define an indigenise Zimbabwean. Hardliners within he ZANU PF establishment insist that this definition cannot be extended to include third or fourth generation Indians, Whites or other races. It becomes more than clear that a small group will emerge with more wealth, while millions more will emerge more poorer. With an estimated 90% unemployment, the 10% percent employed will be wiped off. ZANU PF and Youth and Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere have failed to explain his intentions beyond attacking his opponents with emotion and rhetoric. Kasukuwere has managed to bring to national debate a policy that in a normal country would easily have been thrown away. The problem with Zimbabwe is that so many capable people have been corrupted. These include that what should be decent minds in Industry and Commence and the academia. Many who will spend acres of media space defending a patently racist and retrogressive law.
The Indigenisation debate in Zimbabwe has largely remained a political debate, because that is precisely what ZANU PF intends to achieve with this law, political not social transformation ends. No n umbers or figures are being talked of because they are none. ZANU PF has failed to explain why thousands of families in the Marange are, where the Chiadzwa diamonds mines are located, are not benefiting form the minerals located right in their fields and ancestral land. The party has not explained how these communities, who are on the contrary being moved from their land will benefit from their diamonds. The law is an elitist and political enterprise that does not cater for the ordinary Zimbabwean, indigenisation therefore means ZANU PF loyal black person. ZANU PF has fails, so far, to explain who within the so called indigenous people will benefit from the company grabs. What we have witnessed so far are queues of petrified business owners, lining to see Kasukuwere to explain themselves and how they will indigenise. It is clear that this act, like the land reform programme will plunge Zimbabwe further into the abyss. The law is an attempt to muddy the political scene and emerge with solutions and as ‘champions of the people'
Recent concessions on the part of ZANU PF to reform he law remain far short on meeting concerns expressed by business and some within the ZANU Pf establishment like Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono that this law will result in another land grab like chaos. //End//