“MONEY does not grow on trees” is a quote my children hope to hear less of, but which rings true for many of us born without a silver spoon from either peasantry or working class background.
While our backgrounds taught us basic survival techniques, they did not leave us sufficiently financially literate for effective money management. As our financial literacy improves, we should demonstrate that by making informed judgments and effective decisions regarding the use and management of money.
Honing our financial literacy is a practical subject and it is like learning how to swim. You can read volumes and books on how to swim but you would never really learn how to swim until you leave your comfort zone and actually go into the water to practice. Subsequent to acquiring the basic skill, it is necessary to constantly and persistently have the discipline to practice it in our daily lives.
If we apply sound financial principles at individual and household level, then cumulatively as a people we stop being just consumers of other people’s goods as we also become producers and investors.
I read through the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Statistics report which shows that Zimbabwe registered a paltry net investment figure of US$60 million in 2009. Strictly on a cost benefit analysis, this was not the best way to utilise our meager resources, considering the millions that have been spent by the inclusive government on outward bound missions to countries as diverse as China, Iran, SA, Botswana, Russian, USA, UK is some cases, literally begging them to come and get our resources.
On the other hand, let us conservatively assume that there are two million able-bodied Zimbabweans in the Diaspora. If each one potentially saved $1,000 in a year to support investment activities back home, then cumulatively that would amount to ground breaking $2 billion investment inflows unheralded before in the 30-year history of this nation.
If I was part of the inclusive government desperate for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), I would consider the aspirations and requirements of this Diaspora constituency whose members also happen to be sons and daughters of the soil. The fact that their umbilical cords are buried in the land between the Zambezi and Limpopo should surely not make the value of their investment any less important than that of any other?
When the economy was on life support, this community was one of the components which kept its drip connected to the country.
I was fortunate this past week to have a chat with a South African brother, Mogami, who manages the Royal Bafokeng’s enterprise development. The Bafokeng are the 300,000 plus community which sits on one of the largest deposits of platinum in South Africa. I have been impressed by the way this community manages money from its God-given natural resources.
I have watched the developments that have happened in this area in the last seven years. I was last in Rustenberg during the Fifa World Cup period to watch Ghana play Australia at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium and each time I come return, there are visible signs of where their platinum money is going. Despite starting off from a very low base, there is evidence of clinics going up, community centres, schools and roads are being refurbished.
The community is presided over by a young King and every year they present audited financial statements which clearly show what they are doing with the money from their platinum. The Bafokeng are the empowerment shareholding partners of Impala Platinum and are now active participants in its running. Incidentally, they are the owners of Zimplats, the miners of platinum in central Zimbabwe.
Globally, people are demanding more from the resources that are extracted from their catchment areas. Earlier this year, people who follow the shares of the global resources company BHP woke up one day to Australia demanding that it was now going to impose a minerals supper profit tax across the board resulting in BHP’s share value plummeting. Of course the Prime Minister eventually lost his job and the policy has now been re-hashed but the point had been sufficiently made.
As a community, we should not be demanding any less from resources extracted from our soil. To participate in these value chains, it is necessary to put aside whatever small seed we can afford today. Individually it may not be much but there is financial power in numbers.
Many thanks for all the emails which generally supported the ideas of prudent financial management which I discussed in my last column.
Brother Sibusiso from Johannesburg in his email asked why we should just be spectators watching people from Europe, Asia and beyond collect our diamonds. This triggered nostalgic thoughts in me. Back in the eighties, I once taught for about three months while waiting for the university to open, in the place they have now found diamonds in -- Marange.
It was really the back of beyond then, with terrible roads such that there was only one Musabeka Bus Service which showed up only once every week. If you were really desperate to go to an urban centre, you had to walk for many kilometers to get onto the Masvingo-Mutare road at Nyanyadzi.
Now that diamonds have been found on their doorstep, it is almost as if these poor people have suddenly become a nuisance to the authorities. Some have already been shipped to Arda’s Kondozi and are supposed to celebrate receiving just a single hectare to farm?
I believe as a people we must demand that the distribution model of the money from our resources ought to change. A portion has to accrue to the local community before its escalated to national government.
Why should the people of Matabeleland North be just spectators while gold mining assets like Turk, Angelus and Olympus are flipped from one owner to another in Canada and the UK?
Have the communities of Lupane and Gwaai benefited from the teak forests being harvested on their soil?
Should the people of Mhondoro-Ngezi be just satisfied to be beneficiaries of a road and a dip tank without involvement in mining platinum under their feet?
Do the people of Chakari even know that someone has been mining gold at Dalny?
Are the communities around Beitbridge involved in diamond mining in their area?
The recently promulgated Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act represents an opportunity for empowerment across the board, if the inclusive government can prevent the usual suspects using this as just another patronage system. For this to happen, we must demand transparency in how the implementation will occur at every company.
Empowerment processes ought to take into account the working classes who have keep these companies as going concerns. If they say more than 800 companies have registered to participate in the empowerment programme, then there is enough opportunities for everyone including our Diaspora communities.
To participate, it is necessary to have capital and it starts by the choices we make with the money we earn. We order our future harvests by the seeds we plant today if we shift our focus from just being consumers.
Tafirenyika L. Makunike is the managing partner of Napachem (www.nepachem.co.za), an enterprise development and consulting company based in Johannesburg. He can be contacted on e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org