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Zanu PF pushes for racial empowerment legislation
Henry Makiwa, SW Radio Africa
September 26, 2007

The ruling Zanu PF party stepped up its campaign to see a racially biased Bill turned into law after Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Munyaradzi Mangwana, challenged white Zimbabweans to prove they were disadvantaged by colonialism.

The planned legislation will give a 51% share holding to “indigenous people.” The controversial bill defines indigenous as “any person who before the 18th April 1980 [Zimbabwe's Independence Day] was disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on the grounds of his or her race, and any descendant of such person.”

On Tuesday Mangwana told an all Zanu PF joint Parliamentary Portfolio Committee session on Budget and Finance that white Zimbabweans who own businesses, including the ones born after independence, will have to prove they are “indigenious” by proving they were disadvantaged by colonialism.

Mangwana said: “A Zimbabwean-born (white) cannot qualify. He has to prove that he has been disadvantaged by the colonisation. I have been asked if coloureds are included, yes they are included, Indians they are also included if they can prove that they were disadvantaged by the colonial regime. All blacks qualify because they fall within the definition of indigenous.

"The Bill is not about economics but politics. It is about the total liberation of Zimbabwe, it is not to please X, Y or Z," he said.

The draft bill, which is now before the Harare-based parliament's legal committee, has raised fears among foreign-owned companies operating in Zimbabwe that they will soon lose control of their firms.

Multi-national firms that may be affected by the policy first unveiled in June, include Barclays Bank, Bindura Nickel Corporation and mining giant Rio Zim.

Bulawayo-based economist Eric Bloch has however dismissed the ruling party’s pursuit of the bill as a “Robin Hood-style politicking”.

Bloch explained: “The government want to be seen as if they are taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Most of this is of course, all rhetoric as we have seen in the recent past, we are sure they will start back-tracking soon.

“The government has already back-tracked on 17 issues that were propping up their price freeze blitz in the past three months alone. The Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill is well timed before the elections to try and win popular support of most of the people as its racially biased, but once the elections are over, you will see it being amended.”

Mangwana’s pronouncements came as the Mugabe's government was reinstating the licences of all private abattoirs in another embarrassing admission that the state beef monopoly has no capacity to meet demand.

The government withdrew the licences of all private slaughterhouses on 11 July, accusing them of defying orders to reduce meat prices by half in the what the state said was it’s attempt to rein in rampant inflation.

Industry Minister Obert Mpofu said at the time that the state-owned Cold Storage Company (CSC) would be given sole responsibility for slaughtering livestock.

But Mpofu on Tuesday announced that all abattoirs had now been given the green light to operate admitting that “CSC has no capacity to supply beef to the nation.”

In June Robert Mugabe warned that his government would seize and nationalise firms that were ‘profiteering excessively in a bid to incite Zimbabweans to revolt against the state.’

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