By Douglas Togaraseyi Mwonzora
Douglas Mwonzora is MDC-T National Spokesman
Last week, Minister for Finance said something about Zimbabwe’s new stance on indigenisation which differed fundamentally with what the President said on the same subject in the same week. Zimbabweans and the whole world must therefore be wondering as to exactly what is happening in the Zimbabwean cockpit.
The Zanu PF’s election campaign ran from 2008 to 31 July 2013. It was grounded in populist rhetoric which included indigenisation, nationalism, blaming the sanctions for everything and blaming everyone else other than Zanu PF for Zimbabwe’s for Zimbabwe’s social, economic and political woes. They also ran a sustained negative campaign against the person of Morgan Tsvangirai.
On the social and economic front the Zanu PF propaganda machinery ran with the mantra of indigenisation. While it is clear that there was no common understanding in Zanu PF on the actual meaning of indigenisation, the common message that came to the political market was that indigenisation was the answer to the poverty and unemployment that continued to bite the poor and the downtrodden. Further, economic resources would be in the hands of the indigenous Zimbabwean people and not in the hands of foreigners. As Zimbabwe was endowed with rich mineral resources, good agricultural land, and a good climate if these were to be put in the hands of the black Zimbabweans then that was the answer to all the economic ills afflicting Zimbabwe, so ran the message.
Zanu PF has found solace in assassinating Tsvangirai’s character while economic growth flattens.
The policy of indigenisation however ignored certain basic economic, political and social imperatives and therefore was bound to fail.
First, the policy ignored the important aspect of equality within the African population. The diverse political opinions black Zimbabweans have also meant unequal access to economic opportunities under indigenisation. That meant that key economic resources were placed under the monopoly of the small, powerful, privileged black elite that belonged, or was well connected, to Zanu PF. These powerful elite would enter into an exploitative relationship with the rest of the population who did not belong to Zanu PF or if they did belong to Zanu PF were not senior or significant enough to be considered into the economic gravy train. Thus the indigenisation policy meant monopoly of economic resources by a few. It also meant exploitation or oppression of the masses by these few. Inevitably this policy was bound to fail on account of its unsustainability.
Second, this policy ignored the reality of the modern global economy. Being a part of the global economy, the Zimbabwean economy naturally stands in competition with other economies for investment. For the investors to select to invest in Zimbabwe their investment must be safe and beneficial to them. Further, the social, political and economic policies of Zimbabwe must be clear, consistent and predictable. Unfortunately Zimbabwe offered no guarantees for any of these. Consequently, the investors would not and did not choose Zimbabwe as an investment destination.
Third, the mere possession of such resources as agricultural land, mines, water, buildings and airspace without the means to exploit them for economic value is meaningless. Thus large tracks of land were possessed by war veterans, families and friends of the Zanu PF elite but without the means of making those farms meaningfully productive. This meant that Zimbabwe retained possession of dead capital. Needless to say no economic program can succeed on the basis of dead capital.
Fourth, by common usage, indigenous meant certain black persons only. It excluded the poor and underprivileged white, Indian and Asiatic communities born and bred in Zimbabwe. It also excluded junior Zanu PF members and all non Zanu PF members. This meant that the indigenisation programme policy excluded a large population of Zimbabweans of all colour. Being a policy grounded on an exclusionist philosophy and practice, it was bound to fail.
Fifth, since the days of Nelson Mandela’s fight against apartheid and racial domination the world has grown to abhor racism in all its manifestations. The common racism of white against black is as abhorrent to right thinking members of humanity as racism practised by black people over white and other non-black people. The state and the ruling party in Zimbabwe have done nothing to hide their racial hatred of other communities in this programme. This however, meant that Zimbabwe could not be an attractive destination for righteous capital. Modern economies thrive on the basis of the integration of their diverse communities into the national economy and programmes. An economic program built on the basis of racial hate can never succeed.
Sixth, modern economics tell us that for a country to succeed in any economic revolution or programme, that country must have strong institutions supporting democracy and accountability. For example there must be a strong and independent judiciary, strong and independent crime and corruption fighting institutions like the Police, Anti-Corruption Commission and the National Prosecuting Authority. However, the independence of these institutions has been severely compromised in Zimbabwe. In the case of the Anti-Corruption Commission for example, the state has abused its power of the purse to underfund and therefore financially cripple this body. Every time that this body has tried to act against corrupt state officials they have been target of reprisals from the state officials themselves. An economic programme built against a backdrop of weak institutions can never succeed.
Given the above the indigenisation policy has and will for a long time remain an economic fad.
As expected the Zimbabwean crisis has remained and has worsened since Zanu PF stole the July 31 elections. Virtually no economic activity is taking place because there is no capital with which to exploit the rich natural resources that Zimbabwe has. Crucial capital continues to flee from Zimbabwe to safer countries within the region. Foreign investment is shunning Zimbabwe in favour of safer, more just and policy consistent countries within the region and beyond. The Zimbabwean state continues to erode the little independence that was left on the key institutions. Because of the massive de-industrialisation, unemployment and poverty continue biting the ordinary Zimbabweans. Service delivery has worsened while social and political injustices are the order of the day. The masses continue to be excluded from the little economic activity that there is, either because they don’t belong to Zanu PF or on the basis that they are not important enough members of Zanu PF. Corruption in the executive and judicial arms of the state continues unabated. Further, the absence of a credible election system remains an albatross around Zimbabwe’s neck. If this situation persists then, Zimbabwe has no future to talk about.
The task for the MDC and other democratic forces in Zimbabwe is therefore daunting. They must take a leading and serious role in the prosecution of the democratic struggle. The endgame of this democratic struggle should be the complete democratisation of Zimbabwe and the deliverance of the people of Zimbabwe from poverty and misery.
Tendai Biti is rumoured to be spearheading “a grand coalition” to help unseat Mugabe. Will he relegate “elitist”politics & opportunism to the rear?
For this struggle to succeed Zimbabweans must relegate elitist politics and opportunism to the rear. This is a struggle for the poor and downtrodden. It is a struggle of the people whose future has been rendered bleak by the evil system of oppression of black people by black people. Therefore these people must be mobilised to play a leading role while the MDC and other progressive forces remain the vanguard of this struggle. Our struggle must be guided by the economic vision of the MDC which is the creation of a developed, prosperous, inclusive and socially just green economy skilfully integrated into the world economy. The mission is the creation of an enabling, inclusive, environmentally sustainable economy that delivers food security, social services, eliminates poverty and creates wealth for the Zimbabwean people. The confusion displayed by the ruling party on the policy of indigenisation has therefore given Zimbabweans a perfect opportunity to begin the serious journey to prosperity.