Indigenization Bill Racist-MDC legislators

By Brighton Chiwola   November 2007

The passage of the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill in the House
of Assembly on the 26th of September was met with stiff resistance from
lawmakers of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The
opposition legislators described it as racist, badly timed and insensitive
to the country's current socio-economic woes.

Contributing to the debate on the 25th of September, Member of Parliament

for Harare North, Hon. Trudy Stevenson said the most notorious thing about

the Bill was that it was going to create two classes of citizens who would

be treated unequally. Said Hon. Stevenson, “Mr. Speaker, I speak as one of

the people as it is clear that this Bill is targeting whites. I am a

Zimbabwean citizen and in this Bill, my right as a citizen is being reduced

so that I am not going to have the same rights as a black citizen. Everyone

is a citizen and we have equal rights.” However, the Minister for

Indigenization and Economic Empowerment, Mr. Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana was

unmoved and adamant that the Bill was the right step towards empowering the

black community and was meant to correct past colonial imbalances. Stevenson

objected this by saying that everyone disapproves the colonial past, but

those past imbalances cannot be corrected by creating another imbalance on

racial lines. The fiery legislator reminded the Minister that such an action

was a clear deviation from the objectives of the liberation struggle. “In my

view this betrays one of the main objectives of the liberation struggle. I

will remind members on the opposite side, the liberation struggle was fought

for equal opportunities, equality for all. If you are going then to

disempower some, you are not going to have equal citizens. You are going

back to creating two classes of citizens. One class is going to have less

power and fewer rights and this is wrong, it is fundamentally wrong.”

Another MDC MP and Shadow Minister for Economic Affairs, Hon. Edwin

Mushoriwa of Dzivarasekwa, bemoaned the dire consequences the Bill was going

to have on our already dilapidated economy should it become an Act. Hon.

Mushoriwa reminded the House in general and the Minister in particular that

Zimbabwe was already being perceived to be an unsafe investment destination

by foreign investors and what the government was doing was tantamount to

fueling an already existing negative perception. “The perception at the

moment is that Zimbabwe is a hostile country in terms of investment.

Naturally many people run away. As we speak right now, with the news that

the Minister has brought this Bill to the House with this political thrust

that as Zimbabweans we want this as part of the revolution, asset stripping

is happening. Most industries and all those companies who wanted to reinvest

are now withholding their investments because the Minister does not

understand the timing for the economy.”

Mr. Mushoriwa queried the Minister’s wisdom of bringing the Bill in

Parliament 27 years after independence. He said what was important at this

juncture was for the Minister to bring a Bill that is in line with the

economic turnaround that the Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono is always

talking about. The MDC lawmaker added that it was worrisome that at this

time where our people are crying out for economic salvation, the Minister

has the guts to say “the Bill is more political than economic.” “You have to

ask, Mr. Speaker, 27 years after we attained our independence; we have the

Minister standing in this House to talk about political need rather than

economic need for Zimbabweans”, complained Mr. Mushoriwa. Because of all

these weaknesses, Mushoriwa said it was not proper for Parliament to support

the Bill as it was irrelevant in terms of economic recovery and

stabilization particularly the forecasted disastrous results it was going to

have on investment. Said Mr. Mushoriwa, “. As Parliament we should not stand

up and support such a Bill because in terms of investment, it is the

perception, which carries the most weight”

As has become the norm with ZANU PF parliamentarians, Minister Mangwana was

defensive and arrogant throughout the whole debate and insisted the Bill

would sail through. Opposition legislators were reminded they could go back

to school if they did not understand some aspects of the Bill. According to

Mangwana’s analogy, for a white MP to oppose the Bill was a sign of being

“More concerned with the colour of your skin than the essence of the Bill”,

while opposing black legislators were branded puppets as is the norm.

The Bill sailed through the House of Assembly on September 26 amid protests

from Hon. Job Sikhala that the House was not in quorum. Other MPs who hotly

contested the passage of the Bill include Hon. Willas Madzimure (Kambuzuma),

Hon. Gift Chimankire (Mbare) and Hon. Milford Gwetu (Mpopoma). The Bill has

been widely criticized by a host of economic analysts and it is expected to

have the same destructive impact on an already weeping economy as did the

chaotic land grabs in the turn of the millennium. Like with the land

invasions, there are reports that certain ruling party heavyweights are

targeting specific banks and mines. The country’s leading foreign owned

banks include Standard Chartered, Barclays and Stanbic; which is owned by

Standard Bank of South Africa. Stanbic has already warned it could pull out

if affected. Mining giants ZIMPLATS owned by South African platinum giants

IMPALA could also be affected. In an apparent reference to the Bill, Dr Gono

launched a scathing attack on the motives of some politicians and warned

them to stay away from the sensitive banking sector. “Those who want banks

must apply for their own licenses,” said Dr. Gono presenting his mid-term

monetary policy last month. – Chiwola is the MDC (Mutambara) National Youth Secretary for Information & Publicity

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