Will indigenous Zimbabweans please stand up!

If indigenisation is about empowering us ‘indigenous’ Zimbabweans, how come no one has told me what my piece of the cake is? The deals that are being made with threats over the barrel of a gun are not being made public to allow us to endorse the fairness of the controversial project.

When South Africans voted against apartheid, the first big achievement was to acknowledge that their nation comprised people of different races and tribes. Our neighbours made a conscious decision to describe themselves as a rainbow nation.

Nelson Mandela described the rainbow nation as: ‘Each of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world’.

After preaching the gospel of reconciliation and nation building in the early 1980s President Robert Mugabe later narrowed his definition of Zimbabweans to those he describes as ‘indigenous’. But exactly who qualifies as an indigenous Zimbabwean? This was never clarified – it is applied selectively and changes by the day.

How far does one have to go back into history to define an indigenous person? If we choose to go back as far as we can, then there is no one in Zimbabwe who is indigenous. Without a timescale into history the definition of indigenous becomes arbitrary and can be used as an excuse to exclude anyone.

An easy target of the selective choice of who qualifies an indigenous are Zimbabweans of Caucasian origin. But some of their ancestors came to Zimbabwe half a century before those of Malawian and Zambian origin.

Why then is it that the latecomers from Malawi and Zambia are considered more indigenous that those of Caucasian origin? Going back another 50 odd years before the arrival of the Europeans, King Mzilikazi arrived with his tribe. History tells us that the Shona also came from the north and kicked the then indigenous people off their land.

Rumours are that even the president’s ancestry can be traced to more that one tribe. Perhaps he needs to accept that his is a diminished version of indigenousness.

The minister responsible for administering the Indigenisation Act is quoted as saying that indigenisation is a Zanu (PF) project to benefit party supporters. The word indigenous has been hijacked – it now means a Zanu (PF) supporter!

The head of the Affirmative Action Group, the organisation supposed to be behind the indigenisation drive is quoted as saying that it will only benefit ‘clever ones’ – nothing to do with nativeness or heritage, just brains!

If the Indigenisation Act is to be applied successfully and be accepted universally it is critical that the definition of the word ‘indigenous’ is agreed. As long there is no clarity on who qualifies as indigenous, we are exposed to vultures and opportunists who will claim to be more indigenous than others.

Zanu (PF) uses the term ‘indigenous’ to hoodwink us into thinking that we qualify and will therefore benefit – but they only apply it to a select few who support them. this means we all stand to lose.

If anyone had any doubt whether they are indigenous or not, the answer is ….. you will only be indigenous as long as those who determine what is indigenous want you to be. The case of Tracy Mutinhiri highlights the fact that we are only indigenous if we behave in a certain way and that being indigenous is not a right. It can be taken away.

Mutinhiri was allocated a farm ‘because she used to qualify as indigenous’. She is now facing constant threats to lose her farm because those who allowed her to be indigenous decided to declassify her as ‘non indigenous’. She is accused of behaving in a non indigenous way.

I currently live in a foreign country but I am Karanga through and through. I am not allowed to vote in Zimbabwe, maybe I am not indigenous enough? Am I indigenous anywhere on this earth?

If we accept this indigenous classification, we are allowing someone to claim what is essentially ours. There is a bunch of clowns out there who are selling indigenisation as a noble idea that will benefit all of us. The reality is that these people are only pursuing their own selfish interests. It is time that Zanu (PF)’s manipulation of indigenous is ditched – time for us to embrace our nationality.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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