FOLLOWING the historic land reform programme in which President Robert Mugabe’s government forcibly reclaimed land that had been possessed through violent British conquest, Zimbabwe has given birth to an indestructible seed – the idea that Africans can own their resources and enjoy greater control of their own economies.
Many African states will soon realise their folly and implement the exact same policies we have in Zimbabwe. This execution will perhaps be more elegant, but that elegance is born of the luxury of hindsight that we as pioneers could never enjoy.
The nature of British conquest is that the empire never relinquishes control of resources. It is for this reason that you find the Australian Aboriginals living on the periphery of society in their own land.
In Kenya, British aristocrats still hold control of vast tracts of land and wield considerable economic power. But there are no Kenyans farming in Britain. Indeed the British press routinely howls in disapproval at the acquisition of football clubs and infrastructure by wealthy Russians and Arab royalty. How is it they cannot understand the Africans distress at having his entire continent held ransom by foreign profiteers?
The idea of indigenous people owning the means of production is sacrosanct. There can be no debate over this matter. As the sun of enlightenment continues to rise over our continent, this voice of reason will grow louder and louder and louder until the imperialists can bear it no more and scream in surrender falling to their knees as they submit to the will of the people. There can be no other way. We are going to take the remaining lands and we will certainly implement indigenisation. We are open to debating implementation but certainly not the principle.
I pray you forgive my turgid introduction, but this is an open letter of chastisement to Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
I felt it necessary to remind them of the context in which we are waging this economic battle. We are standing as game changers and must be ever conscious of our responsibilities, not only to Zimbabwe but also to the continent at large.
The back and forth between these two gentlemen is not the stuff of whispers; indeed it has been played out in full view of the media. But the question I must ask these two men is what precisely are they fighting over? Is it on the principle of ownership or on the implementation of the policy?
I will remind the two of a history I am sure they are well aware of. The import of this history is that revolutions are rarely ever the thing of elegance. When the learned Professor Jonathan Moyo demanded that state media broadcast 70 percent local content, there was widespread outrage amongst those whose vision does not see beyond the next meal.
At the time, the implementation was not as elegant as some would have preferred, but the good professor stood his ground. Today, Zimbabwe enjoys a thriving Urban Grooves industry with celebrities such as Winky D routinely flying abroad to entertain the Diaspora. It takes time for good policy to bear fruit.
The same is true of the Land Reform that was previously slammed as poorly executed. Today, we read conceding reports from Western academics accepting that production is on the up and recovery is certain. I am sure all of us were overjoyed at the recent reports of an extraordinary tobacco harvest. Good policy takes time and often seems messy at onset.
Of necessity, I must ask again what these two gentlemen are fighting over. Is it over the principle of indigenous ownership itself or over the implementation? The only manner in which this adolescent squabble can be resolved is if the terms of the argument are made clear. Reading their submissions, I can safely conclude that Gono objects largely on the grounds of implementation.
Gono is man of impressive imagination and I applaud him for his acumen in policy drafting. His article – Indigenisation: Aiming for Fuller Participation – is a beautiful piece of genius and has quickly received the applause it deserves. I would encourage the government to put it to the currently sitting parliament, as I see nothing that either the MDC or Zanu PF could object to in that document.
However, there is a very serious flaw in the manner in which Gono and Kasukuwere are interacting. These men who are meant to be partners in government seem to be locked in a political fight to the death. Their enmity is not a secret.
Their problem lies in that Gono seems to feel that his model for empowerment is mutually exclusive with the current drive. This is certainly not the case; both policies can be run concurrently. It is not a case of either or, my way or the highway. That is not how government works. Both policies are wonderful and should be implemented.
I cannot see why companies that have complied with the indigenisation directive cannot be directed to source 51% of their inputs from indigenously owned SME’s. In the same vein, I cannot see how the current model is disruptive to Gono’s vision.
I am made to understand in such a way as to believe it that Gono has not sought to assist the process with humility. He has not offered his expertise unconditionally but has stood at the sidelines picking faults in a manner that could be interpreted as malevolent.
Instead of offering no-political-strings-attached help, Gono has taken to the podium and publicly voiced his disapproval. This is an unhelpful and provocative approach especially seeing that Kasukuwere is simply implementing government policy, which has been signed off by cabinet. The notion that Kasukuwere has single-handedly engineered the indigenisation drive is dishonest and those who believe it are naïve.
In this way, Gono has allowed himself to be used as a poster boy by disingenuous forces that feign disapproval on implementation grounds when in fact they disagree as a matter of policy. These Rhodesians live amongst us and count the likes of Tony Hawkins in their ranks.
For his part, Saviour Kasukuwere has made the error of responding to Gono’s taunts in public. It makes for an ugly scene. In addition to that, I feel that Kasukuwere should indeed take heed of Gono’s proposals and support their implementation, as they are not contrary to his current efforts.
At a time when the elections are fast looming, having the central bank viciously challenging a key component of our campaign model is unhelpful. What brings us together is far greater than what sets us apart gentlemen. Come together, have dinner, discuss this and put it behind you.
Amai Jukwa is a loving mother of three. She respects Robert Mugabe, is amused by Tsvangirai and feels sorry for Mutambara. Follower her on Twitter @AmaiJukwa