"Indigenisation is a policy based on race; that is a fact. It is a policy that specifically seeks to give black people an advantage over white people and the justification is that white people have previously been over-advantaged and we need to be clear on that… I can put it in nice ways…equitable access and so on, but ndezvevanhu vatema, ndizvozvo (it's for black people and that is that!) and that is the bottom line," said Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Patrick Zhuwao.
Does it really matter what the policy is based on; what matters is whether or not it is economically empowering anybody. The law was passed in 2008 and since then how many foreign owned companies valued at $ 500 000 or more have invested in Zimbabwe? How many black Zimbabweans have been economically empowered by getting 51% share in these foreign businesses and how many are employed by these businesses?
Minister Zhuwao, foreign investors have shied away from investing in Zimbabwe because of this obnoxious indigenisation law. I say obnoxious because it is obnoxious; a country can impose all manner of taxes and levies as it sees fit but to force someone to cede controlling share of their business to a partner(s) they never asked for is an outrage. Whether the partner(s) is local or foreign, black or any colour of the rainbow, is irrelevant.
Foreign investors view the imposed partner(s) as nothing more than a blood sucking parasite(s) and, worst of all since they will own the controlling share, very bossy one(s). It is bad enough there are ticks out there but no cow would venture into a tick infested field, ticks the size of a monkey, especial when it can graze somewhere else.
Zimbabwe is not the only country in the world offering investment opportunities; we have to compete with our regional neighbours. In 2012 Zimbabwe only managed to get 4% of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Mozambique received, for example. None of those investors ceded any of their business shares to a local partner. There are still many monkey-size ticks still hungrily waiting for the 51% share economic empowerment from these illusive foreigners!
In 2008, when Zanu PF passed this obnoxious indigenisation law, unemployment in Zimbabwe was already a nauseating 80%. Most of these unemployed workers are ordinary Zimbabweans who have nothing; they did not get any of the farms seized from the white farmers and will, likewise, never be offered any of these 51% share of foreign businesses. To them economic empowerment is getting a job, period!
The ordinary Zimbabwean stood to gain nothing from the passing of the indigenisation law in that he/she was not going to own any shares. But with the law scarring away investors it was the ordinary people who lost the most in lost employment opportunity. Unemployment has soared to 90% plus today; forcing millions of Zimbabweans to leave the country or else join the hordes selling airtime cards, oranges, trinkets, etc. on the street.
Zimbabwe has become a nation of vendors!
"I am the new Sheriff in town, and as the new Sheriff in town all I do is - I don't negotiate government policy, I don't negotiate legislation, all I do is implement existing legislation," said Zhuwao.
Well, Sheriff Zhuwao is right there; we can argue on the merits and demerits of the indigenisation law, or any other Zanu PF policy for that matter, until we are charcoal black in the face - the regime will still implement law regardless. We have absolutely no say on the indigenisation law or any Zanu PF policy now, had in the past or will we have any in the future. Zimbabwe is a dictatorship and as the dictator, Mugabe, dictates policies.
Of course Mugabe will claim that his indigenisation law was approved by the people. He blatantly rigged the 2013 elections, just as he has rig many elections in the past, and thus denying the people a meaningful say in the governance of the country. The people have lost their democratic right to hold him to account. He can claim whatever he likes and does!
Mugabe and his nephew, Zhuwao, are playing politics with the very survival of millions of our people. The indigenisation law fits very well with the Mugabe’s macho anti-white and anti-western rhetoric that is why it must stay; the fact that it has failed to empower any one and has impoverished millions is irrelevant, as far as the tyrant is concerned.
This obnoxious indigenisation law, its greatest appeal being its racist overtones, is not just another law; it is now the very embodiment of Robert Gabriel Mugabe and his legacy to mankind.
Yes millions are out of work and many of them are living in abject poverty, they cannot afford even one decent meal a day. Where there is hunger and poverty, disease and death are not far behind. Yes Zimbabweans are dying like falling fig tree leaves at the start of the dry season. To Mugabe, the economic meltdown, the human suffering and deaths are all a price well worth paying than have his indigenisation law, his legacy, scarpered.
Whilst the obnoxious indigenisation law, the obelisk of lawlessness, remains there is no hope of any meaningful economic recovery but what is that to Mugabe!
The belligerent and arrogance of Sheriff Zhuwao, a reflection of his Uncle Bob’s belligerence and arrogance, should settle the matter of whether or not there can be meaningful economic recovery with Mugabe and Zanu PF still in power. Mugabe’s belligerence shows that he will never implement and meaning economic reforms which include the scrapping of the obnoxious indigenisation law, end corruption, etc.
If we want meaningful economic recovery, the worsening economic meltdown makes recovery urgent; then we must first have regime change; i.e. implement GPA reforms followed by the holding of free, fair and credible elections.