But politicians being the liars they are, Zanu PF has so far dismally failed to charm the people on how indigenisation will benefit anyone gullible enough to be hoodwinked by the policy to cause a vote for them. Their talk of Zimbabweans owning their own resources is cheap and empty, evocative of the monotonous political propaganda voters are now all too familiar with.
As proponents of indigenisation, they have not been able to explain convincingly how the takeover of Metallon Gold by Saviour Kasukuwere will benefit us. How are people living outside mining areas, or any other foreign-owned company earmarked for indigenisation and are not lucky enough to be part of some employee and management share ownership trust, going to benefit from the indigenisation programme? I am one of the many citizens of Zimbabwe still smarting from my failure to benefit from similar Zanu PF driven processes like land reform because land allocations were done based on partisan party political lines.
Before the ink is dry on some of the community share ownership schemes so far signed, complaints are already filtering from chiefs and residents of the communities about the lack of transparency in the process and the marginalisation of community leaders as we have heard in Mhondoro Ngezi. Questions are already being asked as to whose interests the trusts are serving, if chiefs who are supposed to be the champions and custodians of the process on behalf of the communities and government, are themselves clueless about how the process should be run. This disorder in Zanu PF only serves to demonstrate that the policy is not only localised in outlook but hurried and clearly carved out to benefit a few people.
And if one may ask, what is the role of the National Indigenisation Economic Empowerment Board in all this and what have they done thus far? Or is the body just another job-creating conduit for cronies, relatives and girlfriends of those in power.
Zanu PF knows Zimbabweans, particularly the youth, badly need jobs and would fancy owning natural resources in the communities they live. So they find it seductive to use the indigenisation as a trump-card to woo voters in the next elections in the same manner they used the land, and printed money to “mechanise” farmers as themes for the two most recent elections.
The sad reality, though, is that the same looters of resources will end up owning these companies because they are the ones with money or have connections with money.
By hurriedly and forcibly taking over companies, Zanu PF is seeking to destroy the very same bedrock of economic empowerment they claim to be building, as they did with the land reform programme — giving farms to people who did not have the skills or the equipment to work it. Do the prospective owners of the mines have the resources or the necessary wherewithal to run the companies, considering that mining is a highly capital intensive business?
Or, does Zanu PF intend to hand over the grabbed mines to their “fair weather friends” from the East? Imperialism is imperialism; it cannot be condoned because it is being done by the Chinese. If, through indigenisation, our objective as a nation is to get rid of imperialism, capitalism or any other isms, then this policy must be applied without favour to any particular group.
However, if media reports are anything to go by, Zanu PF has already begun selectively implementing this policy by excluding from the exercise their friends from the East, as shown by their spirited refusal to extend this policy to our God-given diamond fields in Chiadzwa ostensibly to protect their personal interests there by proclaiming that alluvial diamond mining was a preserve of the State.
And so, Zanu PF thinks that the electorate is foolish enough not to see through their duplicity. Indigenisation is, regrettably, a Zanu PF electioneering ploy that will not benefit ordinary citizens, and which like its forerunner, the agrarian reform project, will become another monumental failure.
Economic empowerment policies such as indigenisation or the land reform are clearly very noble economic empowerment concepts, but it is their careless and sheer thoughtlessness and the untransparent manner in which they are executed that leaves ordinary citizens asking whether these policies are meant to benefit anybody ordinary.
BY JUSTIN TUMISAI MAKOMBE