Youths mixed feelings on indigenization

Youth leaders and members of the public last week called for caution in rolling out the indigenization programme, expressing fears that the policies scare away potential investors and are still to benefit the youths.

“The indigenization policy of this country has benefitted fewer people than it should and the reason why this is so is because of several problems, which include the fact that the policy is…‘one size fits all’. It assumes that every person, particularly young people, aspires to be a business person, which is entirely not true,” said Promise Mkwananzi, Secretary General of the Movement for Democratic Change Youth Assembly. Mkwananzi was co-panelist at a DefZee-facilitated Food for Thought discussion session held at the U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Section auditorium on Tuesday.

Mkwananzi listed several problems associated with the policy. “It creates and encourages a spirit of young people who do not know that you have got to work to earn whatever you will earn. Personally, I would like to see a policy which encourages young people to work for what they earn,” said the former student leader.

However, another panelist, Livingstone Drikira, of the Zimbabwe Youth Council an organization that is linked to Zanu (PF), though critical of certain elements of the indigenization policy, said it is still too early to ascertain whether all sectors of society have benefitted.

“We must distinguish our fears from reality; in this particular case we have not got the reality of indigenization because it is still being rolled. As we speak, some of the laws are being refined. From what I know, currently we only have a framework for indigenizing the mining sector through statutory instrument 113,” said Dzikira.

“We are still to go to tourism; we are still to go to every other sector. With that knowledge in mind, it is a bit premature for us to say it is benefiting a few. But I am a bit positive because, for the first time, I saw someone in the rural area going to a chief saying, ‘Now that you have been given 10 percent of Zimplats, what’s the plan?’ This was never the case before. Previously, the only people that you talked to are ministers in Harare,” said Dzikira.

Mkwananzi noted that the nature of the community trust scheme, introduced recently by government, would exclude other geographical areas of the country not endowed with rich natural resources. “Obviously the people next to these natural resources are going to benefit. Are you saying people down in Binga, where there is no platinum, are going to relocate to places where there are resources?” asked Mkwananzi.

In discussion, participants raised concerns about the manner in which the policy is being implemented, arguing that this would scare away potential investors.

“I think investors in the short term might be scared,” responded Dzikira. “But while they are scared, that’s an opportunity for you and I to go and get mines because it will only cost you about $400 to get a claim. When you already own the claim when investors come, they will now have to talk to you because you already have the mining rights to the claim.”

Dzikira urged youth to criticize but continue to take advantage of the government policies on indigenization.

“If you are told there is a gold mine, (do not) first say ‘is it true?’ First go and grab, and then ask, ‘is it true,’” said Dzikira, who later explained, “when I say grab, I mean grab it legally.”

He also announced that Old Mutual had signed a memorandum of agreement with government to enable youth to access loans through a local bank, saying the scheme will start on November.

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