Indigenisation policy noble

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THE country’s indigenisation policy aimed at economically empowering locals has drawn mixed feelings across the political divide, but misconceptions still surround the policy, with some perceiving it as the grabbing of foreign-owned companies. However, political analysts say the noble policy was long overdue as the country’s populace owned nothing in their own country gifted with abundant resources. The policy seeks to balance the disparity in the economy where the means of production were wholly owned and controlled by capitalistic companies. Colonisation did not only marginalise the locals, but it also excluded them from actively participating in the economy. Profits are posted to their countries of origin, with neo-colonialism plundering our non-renewable resources. The indigenisation policy also makes it mandatory for companies to plough back into the community they are serving by ensuring development. Today, Africa is suffering from the syndrome where the means of production are in the hands of imperialists. Although Africa is said to be independent from Cape to Cairo, the ownership of the means of production is not in African hands. Zimbabwe has suffered for being a pioneer of such policies including the land reform exercise and the ongoing indigenisation and economic empowerment initiative. Resistance and unnecessary criticism has been levelled against the country. Like the land reform programme, the indigenisation and economic empowerment policy has met resistance and criticism from the country’s detractors who have manifested in fellow Zimbabweans. South Africa has Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), also meant to benefit the locals who are also economically marginalised, however, the criticism has not been the same as that with Zimbabwe. The recent U-turn by the MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai on indigenisation reveals a great change of mindset. It has surprised many and helps correct the misconception that indigenisation is a ZANU PF initiative because it is actually a national policy meant to benefit all Zimbabweans regardless of political affiliation. Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, recently said Zimbabwe was not going back on the policy while speaking at the World Economic Forum in South Africa. However, many people believe the policy will inevitably develop into an African cause. The continent has been economically prejudiced through colonisation. With the vast resources in Africa, there is potential for Africans to reclaim their wealth. Ironically, poverty is wreaking havoc in Africa yet the continent has abundant resources. It is against this backdrop that a correctly and well managed programme like the indigenisation and economic empowerment exercise would realise the transformation of lives of ordinary Africans. Zimbabwe’s land reform programme, for instance, triggered other Africans on the continent to work towards reclaiming their land which was once and in some countries still in the hands of the erstwhile coloniser. The plundering of mineral resources by Western countries in Africa has been taking place for decades and as soon as Africa wakes up from its slumber, the better. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has vast mineral resources, but remains economically suppressed. Belgium, DRC’s former colonial master made developments through diamonds from the African country, yet the locals remained impoverished. The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act in Zimbabwe is aimed at redressing colonial imbalances. Other African countries should take cue from Zimbabwe. However, Zimbabwe like the rest of the continent is also losing out on exporting raw materials that can be processed in the country in order to fetch better prices. Chrome, platinum and other minerals are exported in raw state and inevitably imported as finished goods, fetching a higher price. It is undeniable that Western countries cannot produce much raw materials. Meanwhile, positive results of indigenisation are beginning to be witnessed in Zimbabwe as workers are getting a stake in various companies that have been exploiting the country at the expense of locals. Other companies have already started declaring their shareholding status to the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (NIEEB). The mining sector’s compliance to the Act will certainly have a bearing as the sector approximately employs a significant 60 000 people. About 44 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product is expected to come from this sector. Recently, the media was abuzz with indigenisation reports, misleading people saying the programme was meant to benefit politicians and their families. An economic analyst who declined to be named said the country was heading for success with the programme. “Every country should have its own indigenisation in Africa,” he said. “Honestly speaking, Zimbabwe has made a tremendous effort in seeing that the locals participate and control the economy.” Independence alone, he said, was not enough without total political and economic emancipation. “I think baseless criticism has no match here, look at communities in Mutoko where the black granite has not benefited locals,” he said. “These resources are non-renewable and land degradation caused by mines will take its toll on our environment, so for the damage, we need to have something significant to come in our hands because some areas will never be rehabilitated. “It is painful to suffer the environmental consequences especially on the mines yet you never benefited.” Analysts said it was imperative for the indigenisation and economic empowerment policy to be continuously and vigorously implemented for the benefit of the black majority. They emphasised that Zimbabweans should never apologise for the national initiative because it was in the best interest of the nation.

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