It is without doubt that one of the scars still printed on post-independent Africa today is the economic inequalities that have often seen most blacks being less prosperous when compared to Africans of European ancestry or former colonisers.
Sunday Opinion with Mlungisi Dube
As a result of this, redistribution of wealth between whites and blacks has been one of the rallying points for nationalist pretenders and nominal socialists.
The indigenisation debate in Zimbabwe is such an example, the passing of the bill in 2007 and the requirement by government that all foreign-owned firms should surrender at least 51% stake to locals is a clear example. While these policies may appear good on the surface, the way they are implemented and their motives are often disastrous and self-ser
The hypocrisy of these policies is open for anyone to see, post-independence Zimbabwe is full of many different individuals who either ended up giving up their dreams of starting businesses or finally got through after a painstaking toil to set up businesses in the country. Genuine business people are often frustrated by self-serving laws that implement oppressive and skewed policies.
The same government that preaches fiery rhetoric in empowerment is the same government that penalises entrepreneurs for setting up businesses that would transform and empower the lives of ordinary people. for example the licence for mobile operators is pegged at punitive US$140 million while Chinese and other nationalities freely plunder our diamonds and other minerals with ridiculous low licensing fees.
One cannot get the sense of why a mobile operator that sets up equipment that would assist the ordinary man to be connected to the world has to be punished while a foreigner that wants to mine natural resources has to be allowed to do so for free as long as they are proven not to be European or American.
With the discovery of diamonds one would have expected that a government that has championed itself as the paragon of empowerment would have given claims to the locals but it was not to be, the Chinese and other Asians were deemed more suitable to mine and benefit while the ordinary citizens were chucked off from the land of their forefathers to pave way for foreigners who would exploit them. Up to now diamond mines are treated as no-go areas.
To cap it all, reports suggest Zimbabwe is running out of diamonds with treasury only having received ridiculous remittances from these mines.
The main reason why expropriation is disastrous is that it disempowers the intended beneficiaries. what we need to see is our indigenous business people starting and sustaining viable businesses; we want to see Zimbabweans starting their own Barclays, Standard Chartered, Western Union and Old Mutual equivalents.
By bulldozing into well-established businesses, we are defeating the African dream, we are only telling our fellow countrymen that they cannot start their own things, the only way up is through grabbing.
The other worst part of these grabbed industries is their contribution to the economy vis-à-vis employment and taxes to the government. Most industries grabbed by locals are the same business that don’t pay utility companies like Zesa, Telone and water and rentals to local authorities. Workers often go for several months with no pay, their names don’t even exist on Zimra records.
The only beneficiaries of these businesses are the owners who often drive expensive cars while the workers are languishing in deep poverty. Most workers who previously worked for foreign-owned businesses would agree that it was better before the change of ownership to locals.
If the government is serious about economic empowerment, let them start by deregulating the energy sector. many people have been turned away with superb business plans that could have made electricity outages a thing of the past. Anyone who has ever wanted to drill a borehole will tell of the ordeal that one goes through, cumbersome and frustrating measures are put in place by a government through Zinwa.
Zimbabweans are tired of the programmes from ZBC and many applicants have been turned away from opening their own radio and television stations, how many jobs could have been created?
If Zimbabwe is ever to empower its people, we need to see a sober approach, restoration of rule of law and policy consistency. The short term myopic looting will not take this country anywhere.