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Revolutionary essence of the historic indigenisation reform programme

03 Feb 2013 at 06:30hrs | Views
What is the revolutionary essence of the historic indigenisation reform programme and what are its ideological, legal and policy ramifications?

It has become necessary to unpack this question in light of recent ill-informed and ludicrous claims by the now gaffe-prone Minister of Finance Tendai Biti that the establishment of community share ownership schemes under the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act (Chapter 14:33) is illegal. Biti's claims found fake currency last Thursday in the pronouncement by Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono in his monetary statement to the effect that "all laws are equal" which has been taken to mean that the all-important indigenisation law must either compete with other laws or give way to those that contradict or even oppose it.

But there is nothing under the Indigenisation Act or any other law that prohibits the setting up of community share ownership trusts. The record will show that these trusts have been established as lawful voluntary schemes initiated by the indigenising companies on the basis of negotiated transactions. It is incredible that a lawyer like Biti has the temerity to claim that such negotiated, mutually agreed and transparent transactions are illegal. Illegal in terms of what law?

Clearly, Biti is now a frightened secretary- general of a policyless party whose leadership has nothing to show to the electorate or its own membership after spending four long years in government enjoying itself through pleasures of the flesh and other luxuries including US$3,5 million mansions.

What is very significant about the implementation of the indigenisation programme by the relevant ministry is that there has been no legal challenge in the courts by those affected. Instead, there has been unprecedented compliance compared to the legal wrangles that have accompanied the land reform programme.

The RBZ's attempt to contain indigenisation under the mantra that all laws are equal is rhetorically interesting as a generalisation but legally meaningless from the point of view of the Interpretation Act which provides guidelines on how a conflict of laws is legally reconciled. While in general, new laws and new statutes take precedence over old ones, nobody has shown that the Indigenisation Act is in conflict with any law with respect to anything important or fundamental that has been done.  Like the land reform programme, the historical importance of the indigenisation thrust to empower the indigenous population is shown by the fact that it has found expression in the proposed new constitution. That should be enough to prove that there's something important about the legal and constitutional status of indigenisation.

Against this backdrop and for the sake of perspective, if any doubting Thomas among us wants to understand why and how Zanu- PF's indigenisation reform programme is bigger than everything else and why and how it is now a done deal with an irreversible revolutionary momentum, there can be no better cue than the seminal book, Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land, launched in London last week at a high-profile event tellingly organised by the British government's Department of International Development.

Published by Kumarian Press in December 2012 and written by Joseph Hanlon from the London School of Economics, Jeannette Manjengwa from the University of Zimbabwe and Teresa Smart from the University of London and based on field research informed by similar previous studies done by acclaimed scholars such as Ian Scoones, the book empirically proves that the historic land reform is a huge previously unacknowledged economic success of historic proportions.

In particular and of great significance in view of the thrust of the indigenisation reform programme, the paradigmatic book by Hanlon, Manjengwa and Smart shows that whereas there were 167 000 full-time jobs on farmlands before the Third Chimurenga in 2000 whose outset saw the loss of 67 000 of the 167 000; the policy implementation of the land reform programme over last 10 years coupled with Zanu-PF's dollarisation of the economy in January 2009 have generated economic renewal in the country and led to the creation of more than one million jobs in agriculture with production levels  back to the 1990 peak while the potential for unprecedented growth is too vast to quantify.

Even though the authors of Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land are critical of poor economic policies that led to hyperinflation between 2005 and 2008, they are very clear that the land reform programme was not the cause. The authors usefully remind those who are wont to mischievously heap all of Zimbabwe's recent economic challenges on the land reform programme that ' apart from and in addition to the British-inspired evil economic sanctions imposed by the EU, the US and their white Commonwealth allies which, among others have specifically targeted the productive 170 000 newly resettled "A1" farmers who are responsible for most of the new jobs on the farms ' the devastating policy consequences of Esap and the recurring droughts over the last 13 years have largely gone unexamined in a balanced and informed way.

The message from this very important book which is "a must read" for anyone genuinely interested in Zimbabwe's political economy is very clear: Zanu-PF's historic land reform programme has created over one million jobs on the farms alone with more certain to be created on the farms and from agriculture's upstream and downstream industries dominated by the youth to whom employment is a matter of livelihood.  This message must be food for thought especially to the MDC-T whose embattled leadership ranks are hallucinating over their preposterous dreams that their imported and poisonous juice can ever create jobs when the record shows that during their looting stint in Government over the last four years not one of them created even one job. The same tragedy is following the clueless novices in Welshman Ncube's MDC who are so green as to imagine that any sensible and normal person anywhere in the country will support anything called devolution when it clearly cannot create jobs or put bread and butter on the table let alone send kids to school. Zanu-PF's 2013 revolutionary commitment to create jobs for the youth through the historic indigenisation reform programme covering 14 key sectors of the economy is a real deal which is justified by the proven record of the party's facilitation of the now acknowledged huge success of the land reform programme that has created over a million jobs on the farms.

It is important to recall that this huge success which is now being internationally recognised in unambiguous ways by the likes of the British government's Department of International Development was made possible by a collaborative and total effort and support by Zimbabwe's nationalist leadership during which key economic institutions such as the RBZ under Gideon Gono played a pivotal role.

For example, between 2004 and 2008 the RBZ provided US$750 million for general agricultural support and US$400 million for seed and fertiliser while US$200 million was mobilised between 2007 and 2008 as part of what had been meant to be a five-year mechanisation programme in agriculture to acquire and allocate game-changing equipment and implements.  These are staggering amounts that have done wonders on the ground across the country.

Critics of the RBZ under Gono since December 2003 ' and there are many across the political divide ' will do their honour some good if they were to acknowledge the indubitable fact that the RBZ's support for the historic land reform programme made a hugely positive strategic difference which accounts in a big way for the programme's success catalogued in "Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land". Nobody needs to hold any brief for Gideon Gono or the RBZ to state this self-evident fact which, like all good or bad things, speaks for itself on the ground.

This historical fact about sources of pivotal support to the land reform programme has been cause for concern about the RBZ's attitude towards the indigenisation reform programme. Whereas the RBZ was ubiquitous in its support for land reform, it has been conspicuous in its indifference towards indigenisation reform programme to the point of needlessly coming across as hostile.

The time has come for the RBZ as a strategic national institution to undertake a serious introspection on this fundamental national issue so as to have a clear and unequivocal position supported by and presented through an equally unequivocal communication strategy.  It is no longer useful, if it ever was, for the RBZ to come across as if it is opposed to what it actually supports or as if it supports what it actually opposes. Fence sitting cannot be a national service. If you are going to eat a dog, then eat everything and swallow the whole damn thing.

It must be said though that fencing sitting or unconstructive ambiguity has not been a monopoly of the RBZ among nationalist ranks. By and large, with some insignificant exceptions, the only constant and consistent voices in defence and articulation of the indigenisation agenda have come from President Mugabe and Saviour Kasukuwere as the Minister responsible for the programme. The rest of us in the nationalist movement have now and then said perfunctory things here and there in support of indigenisation while generally remaining indifferent if not altogether silent or even hostile on spurious and often personalised and therefore misplaced grounds.  If there have been good reasons for this, the time for a reality check has come because there are better reasons for all of us in the nationalist movement to stand up and be counted in unconditionally supporting the indigenisation reform agenda.

We must all start to make a lot of noise with one voice without fear or favour and without equivocation in pursuit of one revolutionary purpose to restore the people's property rights. In this connection, and given the refreshing findings by Hanlon, Manjengwa and Smart in their path-breaking book, Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land, it is important to remember that a major if not the single most important success factor in the land reform programme has been the visionary clarity and unity of the demographic profile and content of its beneficiaries, namely the veterans, collaborators, restrictees and ex-detainees of the liberation war along with the landless folks in the rural areas. It is these communities whose voice and activism have ensured the success and irreversibility of the land reform programme by holding policymakers and the political class accountable.

What then is the demographic profile and content of the indigenisation programme? In other words who are the identifiable and recognisable beneficiaries of the indigenisation programme who should seek and drive its success in a manner that is morally or strategically equivalent to what the veterans, collaborators, restrictees and ex-detainees of the liberation struggle along with the landless folks in the rural areas have done in the land reform programme?

This question now needs careful interrogation beyond self-serving platitudes. While in the rural areas it is the communities that are the backbone of the land reform programme which are set to benefit through community share ownership schemes; in the urban areas the youth, workers, professionals and the indigenous business community collectively define and make up the demographic profile and content of indigenisation reform program. What this means is that the programme is quintessentially a youth based and youth driven urban drama to the core.  This time the policy issue is urban areas, stupid!

The urbanised youths in question are between the ages of 18 and 40 ' now generally described as G40 across the political divide ' and they make up some 70 percent of the population and some 60 percent of the electorate.

The most important prototype of this G40 lot are 27-year-olds who are well educated or well-trained either in or outside the country and who are beginning to settle down by starting a family with tangible material expectations for a well-paying job, a roof over the head, transport , schools fees, medicare and so forth. While still in touch with their last nine years dominated by the false politics of polarisation and treachery, this important group of 27-year-olds is more concerned about the next nine years than the past and is beginning to understand that real life for them will begin at 40 but only if they get there with real incomes to give them a real material base to secure the real future of their children.

There is absolutely no way that the genuine material or economic expectations of these 27-year-olds and those who are nine years younger or older than them will be realised outside a robust and vigorous indigenisation reform programme to complement the gains of the land reform programme whose success in creating at least one million jobs under Zanu-PF is now common cause.

As a matter of history, the youth need indigenisation to be economically empowered and indigenisation needs the youth as workers, professionals, indigenous business persons and as ordinary new families. This is because the essence of indigenisation is the restoration and the realisation of the values and ideals of the liberation struggle with regard to the economic, social and cultural rights of the indigenous population that were brutally taken away during colonialism from 1890 to 1965 and during Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from 1965 to 1980.

It is for this reason that the indigenisation agenda is a "Chimurenga Call". Whereas in the First and Second Chimurengas, the gun was the weapon of choice and whereas revolutionary advocacy through the so-called land invasions was the driving force to reform the law  in order to change the colonial and UDI property relations; the weapon of choice in the indigenisation thrust is the brain. Indigenisation is a knowledge-based process that requires the creative application of the brain by our youths, professionals, workers and indigenous businesspersons to show their craft-literacy and craft-competence in order to reclaim what is rightfully ours through boardroom and stock exchange transactions among other tools and opportunities to use as the basis for creating new wealth, new income and new jobs in the mines, factories and other workplaces and transactions across the economy just like the veterans, collaborators, restrictees and ex-detainees of the liberation war along with the landless folks in the rural areas have done on the farms where they have created more than one million jobs through the land reform programme over the last 10 years.   

As we have seen from the land reform programme, this will not be an overnight exercise given that it takes at least a generation to radically change property relations. Generation 40 has a historic responsibility to change the colonial and UDI property relations in Zimbabwe and there is no alternative to doing that outside the Chimurenga Call of Indigenisation. None.

Source - zimpapers
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