It has been worth the wait


EVEN though the battle for economic freedom in Zimbabwe has taken a long time to be realised, the fight for empowerment has been worthwhile.
It has been worth the wait.
The different economic empowerment processes we speak of today have come into being as a result of a deep desire not only to be equal, but also to significantly contribute to the well-being of the country.
This April 18 2014 as Zimbabweans join hands in celebrating 34 years of independence, many only echo on political independence.
However, it is time to celebrate the final phase of the struggle; economic independence.
At independence on April 18 1980, the democratic Government of Zimbabwe inherited an economy extensively dominated by whites and multinational corporations.
For a long time, the status quo in the means of production, a product of colonisation, placed indigenous people at a disadvantage.
However, after independence was attained, the process to achieve economic independence was initiated.
Empowerment includes encouraging, and developing the skills for, self-sufficiency, with a focus on eliminating the future need for charity or welfare in the individuals of a nation.
However, there is a misconception that indigenisation and economic empowerment began in recent years.
The process began when we attained independence.
The provision of education for all ensured that the country had citizens capable of taking control of all facets of the nation.
Since independence, policies have been put in place to ensure indigenous Zimbabweans are empowered.
In 1980, President Banana decreed that only indigenous people could join the civil service.
In the late 1980s, the business sector experienced the effective indigenisation of import licences and foreign currency allocations.
The then Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe, repeated on many occasions his belief that the transfer of this vital link in the moneymaking chain would ensure that indigenous people would become the industrialists of the future.
Insurance companies localised their operations in the 1980s.
In the early 90s new banking licences were issued to local investors to break the stranglehold of big multinational banks.
This gave birth to distinguished local banks such as Intermarket (Nicholas Vingirayi), Kingdom Bank (Nigel Chanakira), Trust Bank (William Nyemba), Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) and Agribank.
In the same period dozens of fuel import licences were issued to local indigenous people to break the ‘unacceptable powers’ of major international fuel companies.
This gave birth to indigenous fuel companies such as Comoil, Maps, Wedzera and Murefu among others.
In 2000 Government embarked on the highly successful Land Reform Programme under which land was redistributed to indigenous Zimbabweans.
Prior to the programme only 4 000 white farmers owned prime land.
Today more than 400 000 households have been allocated farms.
Resettled farmers have not disappointed as they have worked so hard to drive the agriculture sector despite the challenges they are facing.
Indigenous farmers have since ventured into the production of crops such as tobacco, cotton, sugarcane and maize at a commercial level, a trade that had been a preserve of the white minority farmers. Black farmers have proved that they are just as good, if not better than the former white farmers.
The empowerment policy has significantly transformed the lives of Zimbabweans.
At least 50 Community Share Ownership Trusts, each worth US$10 million have so far been set up by government in conjunction with foreign-owned mining companies following the launch of the indigenisation programme more than two years ago.
Through the Community Share Ownership Schemes, under the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Programme, communities have been empowered and developed.
The thrust of the schemes has been to ensure that communities benefit from the exploitation of natural resources within their areas.
Independence has brought so much for Zimbabweans who continue to work unfettered to realise their dreams and ambitions, so April 18 is indeed a day worth celebrating.


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