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are more indigenous than others
October 14, 2011
at the Mupedzanhamo market on the outskirts of Zimbabwe's
capital, Harare, thought they were immune to the 2008 Indigenisation
and Economic Empowerment Act, which requires large businesses
such as banks and mining companies to relinquish at least 51 percent
of their shares or interests to indigenous Zimbabweans.
They were wrong.
Bustling Mupedzanhamo, where shoppers can buy anything from hairpins
to refrigerators, has for many years provided traders with a small
income and an escape from the country's economic woes, but
recently groups of youths have descended on the market, brandishing
letters they claim authorise them to eject any trader that they
believe is opposed to the black empowerment programme.
38, a stallholder and widow living in the populous nearby suburb
of Mbare, was forced out of the market last month after they accused
her of belonging to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai, the Prime Minister in a coalition
government formed in early 2009.
accused me and other stall owners of belonging to the MDC, which
they said is opposed to indigenisation, and said we should stop
doing business at Mupedzanhamo. Hundreds of people who are known
MDC supporters have been booted out since the beginning of this
year,'' Raradza told IRIN.
She said members
of the Chipanganos - a gang with a reputation for violence, based
in Mbare and thought to have links with President Robert Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party - had hijacked the stalls and, in some cases, also
the goods that their victims were selling, she said.
have been robbed of the only source of income that I had for about
eight years. The money that I realised from the sale of used clothes
was enough to send my three children to boarding school and buy
all basic items,'' Raradza said.
42, a teacher from the low-income Harare suburb of Highfields, whose
wife runs a small informal convenience store, or tuckshop, described
the gangs preying on the traders as ''vultures feeding
on the flesh of the poor who are at the edge of death''.
militia in this area call themselves the Empowerment Brigade and
are notorious for visiting vending sites, where they demand bribes
from the poor vendors. They claim to be representing the youths
who need economic empowerment,'' Ziwakaya told IRIN.
A member of the ''brigade'', who identified
himself only as Peter, defended their actions. ''Empowerment
does not mean just taking over the mines, banks and big factories.
We cannot do that because we don't have the money, so we will
start with the sell-outs who are opposed to indigenisation.''
The MDC opposed
the indigenisation act, passed on the eve of the violent
2008 elections, when ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary
majority for the for the first time since independence from
Britain in 1980, and Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential
elections to Tsvangirai, who subsequently withdrew from the second
round in protest over the political violence.
from the Southern African Development Community, a regional body,
and the international community, a unity government was set up in
called the indigenisation programme a ZANU-PF political campaign
strategy meant to win votes, and during a recent visit to the US
described it as a ''warped indigenisation policy [that]
has eroded investor confidence''.
John Robertson, a Harare-based economic consultant, ''This
policy is the direct opposite of empowerment. The number of Zimbabweans
who are poor, and those who will become poorer, will increase. The
net effect is far much more poverty and far less self-sufficiency.''
He said ZANU-PF
militias were using the flag of indigenisation to take over the
businesses of "already struggling people, and what is worrying
is that the police seem to be blessing their actions because they
are not being arrested".
IRIN it was likely that the indigenisation policy would force many
foreign-owned companies to close down, leading to further job losses,
while people struggling to find jobs would fail to do so because
investors would keep away.
the indigenisation policy to the fast-track land reform programme
launched in 2000, which led to the forced eviction of more than
4,000 white commercial farmers, often leaving the farm workers homeless
and without a livelihood.
land reform programme seriously injured the economy, thrived on
clear violations of human and property rights and led to widespread
misery. This is what will happen with the indigenisation programme,"
president of the smaller MDC faction and minister of industry and
commerce in the coalition government, said there were problems with
the implementation of the empowerment programme and also a lack
would always be cases of greed, abuse and personal gain in the implementation
of a programme like the indigenisation drive, but what is important
is that everything that is done by the government is made transparent
to avoid the problems. That way, we can also be able to bring the
culprits to book,'' Ncube told IRIN.
There have been
signs of economic recovery since the formation of the unity government
in 2009, but economic activities are often subject to political
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