Indigenisation: where to now? | The Zimbabwean Tawanda Majoni
Last Sunday, I woke up to a screaming headline in a local weekly publication announcing a government “major climb-down” regarding the Zanu (PF) indigenisation policy. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo announced that, instead of using the one-size-fits-all approach to the policy that has been compelling foreign-owned companies to cede majority shareholding to locals, the state would proceed on a sector-specific basis.
Left, right and centre, critics urged the party to abandon the programme that was fraught with opportunities for corruption and saw investors were beating a hasty retreat – with unemployment climbing alarmingly and the Treasury running out of funds even to pay salaries.
But Zanu (PF) steadfastly insisted that the policy was its road to black empowerment and would never be abandoned. This was despite the fact that, save for a few well-connected individuals, the indigenisation policy had not and never would bring any benefits to Zimbabwe and its people.
I, like millions of other Zimbabweans and citizens of the world, never understood why the party thought that locals, most of whom were disinterested to say the least, would all of a sudden successfully become shareholders in Unki, Zimplats, Barclays, etc. Besides lacking interest, locals just did not have the money to buy the shares.
As I have argued in this space before, it is total lunacy to think that an investor would step into the country with a million dollars and surrender $510,000 to some shady consortium of “indigenous”.
The bottom line is that Zanu (PF) jumped over the cliff with the economy, fully aware of what it was doing but out of some senile bravado. When watchers groaned, moaned and screamed, it mistook the noise for cheers. Now that the economy has sunk, and the party does not have a life jacket, it wants to give us the impression that it is clever by attempting to climb up the steep and slippery cliff.
I, for one, know that the party adopted the indigenisation policy as a way of wooing votes ahead of the 2008, and then 2013, general elections. It used the same method in 2000, just after the formation of the MDC, selling itself as a revolutionary political movement that, somehow, had remembered the thousands of landless Zimbabweans and had to forcefully appropriate farms from whites for resettlement.
This is one of the biggest lies the party has ever told anyone, including itself. Unfortunately, a part of the local electorate and others outside the country bought the lie, which now lives as a weird truth in some circles.
Let’s skip the madness. The land reform programme and the indigenisation policy were campaign tools meant to preserve Zanu (PF) in power. All else could go to hell, the economy included. Now that Zanu (PF) thinks and acts as though it won last year’s elections with a landslide, it seems to be persuaded that this is the time to stop acting. The problem, though, is that climbing back up the cliff will not be a morning stroll. It is one thing to talk about adopting indigenisation in a piecemeal way and a completely different ballgame to resuscitate the economy.
Zanu (PF) is virtually in a post-war fix. It is watching the ruins that it caused and is clueless how to bring the buildings up again. It made the thorny bed on its own and must lie on it – starting from 2000 when it launched the ruinous land redistribution programme. In that sense, it is 14 years behind time, but worse, because it must re-build the structures it destroyed before it can even get onto the proper field for the race. – To comment on this article, please contact email@example.com
None will believe zanupf they have cooked their goose so to speak they will never and should never be trusted. As long as the land invaisions and violence continues so shall investrors stay away.