via What is true indigenisation? | The Zimbabwean by Vince Musewe
The policies of Zanu (PF), to indigenise, empower, employ and develop, cannot be argued against because Africa must rise by its own sweat if we are to say we are truly independent. Our continued reliance on foreign capital and aid makes us subject to the whims of those who may assist us or provide investment capital for us. Africans must determine their own destinies and not be too dependent on foreign capital or influence.
Sadly, more than 50 years after Independence came to Africa, the continent has failed wean itself from its dependence on other people’s money. This leaves us, the new generation, vulnerable and unable to be captains of our destiny as intended by our fore-fathers, especially those who perished defending Africa’s right to self-determination and prosperity. We remain consumers of imported products.
There is therefore no argument that Zimbabweans must own and manage their economy. What we need to do is to build on indigenisation with the singular focus and energy underpinned by utmost integrity, equity and fairness so that we can create a new, inclusive, economic order in Zimbabwe.
We need to look at African leaders who came before us and avoid their mistakes, for most of them came and went without achieving the sustainable indigenisation of their economies. If they had been honest and done what they professed was necessary, Africa would not be where it is today.
The first principle we must appreciate is that not every black African wants to own an enterprise and there is nothing wrong with that. We have different talents and inclinations and appetite for risk. Indigenisation must therefore not be forced down our throats. It must remain a personal choice we make. Some of us are good managers, some are good technicians, some are good workers and some are good owners. The choices we make must be left to the market and our own ambition. The government must remain a facilitator of the process and not referee or king maker.
The second issue we must accept is that nothing is for nothing – meaning that indigenisation must happen through sound commercial transactions. This means that we must attract new investment. The success of this process is not divorced to creating an attractive environment for foreign investment – since we do not have our own savings to invest.
With regard to the resource sector, the state is by law the custodian of our mineral wealth. That is agreed. But it is not the owner. The people of Zimbabwe are the owners and therefore must be the beneficiaries. Any model adopted by Zanu (PF) must pass this test. We cannot have a situation where you have to support Zanu (PF) in order to benefit. To date, with regard to diamonds, we have seen how once the state assumes sole ownership, corruption, selfishness and patronage creep in. To me this is a vital issue that can derail indigenisation.
Third, the process of indigenising Zimbabwe must not destroy wealth or value. It must be a process that builds on, or adds value, to what we already have.
This means that indigenised entities must be better off and must create more wealth and opportunity. We failed this test dismally in agriculture because of entitlement and greed, we dare not repeat it. If we do, we are bound to own empty factories that are not productive.
Fourth, the process must be aligned to our national priorities of fighting poverty, creating wealth and employment opportunities.
This means reviving industry must be our primary focus now. Indigenisation is therefore important but not urgent.
For indigenization to be sustainable and beneficial to all of us, we must ask the following questions: Does it create more wealth or opportunity for our people and the country? Is it fair and equitable to all involved? Does it make commercial or economic sense? Does it encourage entrepreneurship and investment? Is it in line with our national priorities?
As President, these are the four questions I would insist to be answered in the affirmative in every indigenous transaction.
You see we are an educated lot, so let us demonstrate that intelligence but applying it. There is so much wealth to share in Zimbabwe and every Zimbabwean must be invited to the party.
We cannot let the army, the police, the intelligence services or Zanu (PF) family and friends be the sole beneficiaries. In fact the President must not let that happen otherwise history will judge him harshly as is the case with most past African leaders who said much, but achieved little. – Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org