From indigenisation to empowerment

In his visit to South Africa in the 90’s the late Lee Kuan Yew, the Singaporean leader who took a poor tiny war ravaged outpost to become a world class economic giant, could not have put it better.

Vince Musewe

Vince Musewe

He told an investment conference that the responsibility of reconciling long term economic need with short term expectations lay with political leadership.

It is their responsibility to “resolve contradictions between the aspirations of their people and the realities of the economy.

They have to settle on a formula which gives enough relief to many who feel they have been dispossessed – but will not cause serious damage to the competitiveness of the economy”

As PDP we are very clear that the Indigenisation Act being promoted by ZANU (PF) should be scrapped and replaced by a broader and more inclusive economic policy of empowerment.

But this empowerment can only happen when we are growing the economy. Our priority now must therefore be to grow the economy through new investments,  more jobs and creating sustainable incomes while doing all we can to alleviate poverty.

In our view, the insistence by ZANU (PF) and Patrick Zhuwao in particular, of implementing indigenisation at all costs continues to cause serious damage to the economy and it is the very people they seek to empower who are suffering from that policy.

In our view indigenisation is actually a misnomer and merely a strategy for economic dispossession by ZANU (PF) similar to what happened with the land reform. It’s a policy that will benefit a few while making investment unattractive and destroying livelihoods.

It is a policy that will further de-industrialise our economy and result in the ownership of companies by a ZANU (PF) predatory rent seeking cabal.

PDP promotes economic empowerment in its broadest sense. If we really look at it, the liberation struggle was all about empowerment as it sought to remove a colonial system which limited blacks by law from accessing opportunities and pursuing their ambitions in any sector of the economy as they wished without limits.

We will therefore create opportunities for all Zimbabweans, especially our youths who and women, regardless of political affiliation.

This involves broad based economic and social empowerment so that the majority of our people can meaningfully participate in the creation of wealth and not be limited as mere workers as was the case during colonialism.

In addition, in order for meaningful and sustainable change, the term empowerment must be defined in the broadest sense of the word to include social empowerment. A holistic approach is therefore necessary so that we as a country can maximise on our human capital.

It is also fact that any society cannot be fully empowered without economic freedom, unhindered access to information, the freedom to speak their mind without fear and the freedom to associate with whomever they want, wherever they want to discuss whatever they want.

Empowerment can therefore not only be about the ownership of economic assets by a few ZANU (PF) cronies, but must include basic human rights. Only then can we say we are a fully empowered society that can live to its full potential.

“If Zimbabwe’s economy had decent stewards with a modicum of vision, Zimbabwe’s economy would have been the third largest economy in Africa, or better, because it had a good head start. It could easily have been the Singapore or South Korea of Africa.

“Mugabe and his mafia should have incubated, nurtured, supported and helped fund, right from 1980, many competent business entrepreneurs to set up businesses that would have developed strength at home, and rapidly grown into the southern and eastern African region. If this had happened, Zimbabwe would today have been a $100 billion economy at the very least, and instead of its citizens flowing in all directions running away from home, Zimbabwe would have been a magnet of immigrants dashing into the small country for opportunities.”

These are the words of Ken Yamatomo, a regular writer and researcher on Zimbabwean issues and he is correct in his observations. ZANU (PF) has actually delayed empowerment and development through their ill-informed policies. Their continued intervention in the economy has actually cost the country and it is time they go.

Our new economic empowerment model must focus on critical issues such as, quality education, skills development, job creation, investment, entrepreneurship and access to capital.

If we can achieve this, then broad based empowerment will be the result without the need for excessive intervention by government.

Side by side, we must have a social empowerment agenda that focuses on improving the quality of life of all Zimbabweans and providing support structures for vulnerable or disadvantaged communities.

For us at PDP, our position on empowerment is that first, you cannot force business partnerships as ZANU (PF) is doing through indigenisation and hope to create value.

Second is that empowerment must never be a politically driven process, but must rather be socially driven to create sustainable social and economic transformation and development.

Third is that the empowerment agenda must include more than the ownership of economic assets.

Above all, it must involve the creation of an enabling environment for all citizens resulting in a vibrant, healthy, productive, responsible and rapidly developing society where all can enjoy freedom and live to their full potential.

PDP Weekly Economic Policy Brief – Issue Number 8

Vince Musewe

PDP Secretary for Finance and Economic Affairs

Post published in: Business

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