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Depoliticise indigenisation and create public information portal
Unemployed People's Association (ZUPA)
February 10, 2012
law of indigenisation and empowerment has not served Zimbabweans
well because of the way it has been politicised and lack of clear
non-partisan information on the law, the policies and the programmes.
Foreign investors and
members of the public need to feel that they are not being arm twisted
into faking political allegiance in order to participate in the
economic opportunities in Zimbabwe.
ZUPA believes the solution
lies in depoliticising the indigenisation programme and debate and
creating, in every library in the country, an information portal
for members of the public and investors. The EU corner recently
opened in Bulawayo is a good template.
The majority of unemployed
people tell ZUPA that they do not know about the opportunities created
by the indigenisation programme and how to access the opportunities.
Sadly, because of lack
of clear and centralised public information portal, some of the
unemployed Zimbabweans also shy away from the programme because
of fear and suspicion that they will be required to demonstrate
political allegiance to those in charge of the programmes for them
to have access to the fruits of the programme.
In our work of creating
conditions where business can grow in order for jobs to be created
for our members, we have taken time to engage potential investors
to promote investment to Zimbabwe. Potential investors we have engaged
say they are reluctant to invest in Zimbabwe not because they are
opposed to the empowerment of indigenous Zimbabweans, but because
of lack of clarity and certainty in the law.
There is a perception
that Zimbabwe is not sincere, clear, honest and transparent in a
way that can give confidence to shareholders. In other words, lack
of a central public information portal makes it difficult to give
confidence to investors. Different partners in the GNU
give mixed messages about the indigenisation programme. Information
available depends on who you spoke to last.
ZUPA, being the body
that represents the interests of the millions of Zimbabweans who
stand to benefit from foreign direct investment and domestic empowerment,
is concerned that the manner and approach to the indigenisation
debate is not helpful to give confidence to those international
investors who see opportunities in Zimbabwe. Most of the world is
undergoing an economic crisis with Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain
struggling to balance their books.
United States of America
and Great Britain have seen their debts as nations hit above $1
trillion. These are debts for their future generations and a challenge
for President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron as they try to grow
their economies and create jobs.
ZUPA values lessons from
those developed countries and elsewhere. We have therefore taken
time to look at the indigenisation policies and laws of countries
that have done well and remain unaffected by the economic bust.
These countries are Norway in Europe, and South Korea and Saudi
Arabia in Asia and Australia.
What is clear from these
countries is that they have based their economic growth on their
resources like oil and minerals. They all have laws and policies
that ensure that their citizens and industries have priority in
accessing the resources.
We note that despite
their laws and tax systems that clearly favour their citizens, foreign
direct investment continues in their countries. They also appear
to have developed, over the years, especially in the case of Australia,
enough resource rich companies and individuals to do well from domestic
investment alone. Most of Australia's investment in mining
is by Australians who have become billionaires over the years. BHP
Billion is one of the largest mining companies in the world, but
started as a small scale indigenous mine in Australia. Andrew Forrest,
an Australian billionaire and philanthropist started from nothing
but benefited from Australian mineral resources as an Australian.
The question is, why
are Zimbabweans and potential investors skeptical about Zimbabwe's
Foreign investors will
tell you that they see nothing wrong in empowering Zimbabwean citizens
as this is the case in Norway, Australia, Saudi Arabia and South
Korea. They will however have unsaid concerns about mixed messages
from the parties in the GNU and lack of clear, unambiguous information
from which they can make decisions.
They tell us that it
is difficult to convince their shareholders to put in billions in
long term investments in mining where they will only begin to realise
profits many years down the line, if there is no security that the
investment is safe. ZUPA believes this is a fair point. The different
messages from the parties in GNU are therefore making Investment
Minister Tapiwa Mashakada's job difficult because the foreign
investors will not risk billions of dollars in Zimbabwe, when Tanzania,
DRC and Botswana are offering certainty and security.
The delay in investment
means Zimbabwe will remain a resource rich country with no capacity
to explore or exploit the minerals. Our members will remain in poverty
with no prospects of getting jobs. We will be interested in knowing
what the Zimbabwean delegation to the Mining Indaba investment conference
in South Africa brought home in pledges and expressions of interest.
ZUPA believes that Zimbabweans
need to start benefiting from the natural wealth around them. We
take the view that our members who are not employed must be given
access to opportunities in line with devolution.
We believe that it is
high time the GNU depoliticised the debate on indigenisation. It
is time for all the parties to sing from the same hymn sheet and
give confidence to those who want invest in Zimbabwe.
Above all, we call on
the GNU and the Ministry of Youth Development, Employment and Indigenisation
in particular, to create a public portal for information on the
indigenisation programme, the facilities available and how to access
the opportunities. We believe the indigenisation programme must
be depoliticised and legislation put in place to punish anyone who
demands a political party card of any colour or kind as a condition
to accessing opportunities.
We encourage the parties
in Government to be sincere and mature about the benefits of the
programme and to take away the politics of bickering from the programme
in the interest of Zimbabweans.
We remain convinced that
if there is unity on the indigenisation issue in the GNU and clear
publicly available information, there would be support and confidence
from those who want to invest in Zimbabwe.
ZUPA will support honest
programmes that take Zimbabweans out of poverty by creating wealth,
jobs and economic opportunities. We however believe that this can
not be done in a poisoned environment where every programme is politicised
and information is not publicly available for people and investors
to make informed choices.
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