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Indigenisation: Is the timing appropriate?
23/12/2012 00:00:00
by Graham Nyakudjga
Indigenisation ... Robert Mugabe
Kick-starting the Zim economy

ZIMBABWE has gone through a massive land redistribution program which although successful, has almost brought the country to its knees economically. The reasons which caused this downward spiral of the economy are varied.

The random seizures of once productive farms, sanctions imposed by international powers, corruption and successive droughts are some of the major causes of this historic economic disaster.

Were the land seizures wrong? The answers differ according to one's viewpoint.

My personal view is that it was inevitable to redistribute land as the majority of people were squeezed in small unproductive plots in rural areas in a country they called theirs. A need to resolve that condition was paramount considering too that it was one of the burning issues which Zimbabweans fought for during the liberation war.

Nevertheless, the good thing is that Zimbabwe can reverse the current bad image and become a future case study for the whole of Africa in terms of economic turn-around only if the government handles the situation carefully.

We have got educated, smart and hardworking human resources, fertile lands and when there is no drought, we always receive ample rains and hence nothing can stand in our way production-wise.

The biggest part of land redistribution is behind us if we do not take into consideration some few reported minor cases of land grab still happening. Land redistribution was a major exercise which will take some years for its benefits to be realised - if we are not careful.

By that, I mean the government support towards this undertaking should be adequate. New farmers need training to view farming as business since most of them were only into small scale production, or peasant farming. Funding should be availed for new farmers to secure inputs, machinery and pay for labour.

Safeguards should be put in place to ensure that funding meant for supporting farming is not diverted. Agricultural extension officers need to be deployed to farms to impart vital farming methods and skills to the new farmers. This will act as a catalyst to speed up realisation of big-time production and bring back the country to its good old self.

The government is presently spearheading indigenisation of the economy .The question is: Is the time ripe for that major project again before land redistribution starts to bear fruits? Does the country have enough economic muscles to carry itself through these combined major transformations?

There is no doubt the idea of indigenisation is a noble one, but here we have a question of sustenance. History, as well as experience, are the best teachers. What we learnt during the land redistribution needs not be ignored. Inflation reached unprecedented levels and the human suffering could not be measured.

There was a massive exodus of people in search of better living conditions. If indigenisation is allowed to run concurrently with the land distribution program, are we saying if we remove sanctions from the equation, the economy will not be affected much?
Is it not going to exacerbate the suffering of our people? How about delaying the indigenisation of the economy and gradually address current challenges facing the country, then move forward at a later stage when the storm is over.

Besides the nobility of the idea of indigenisation, some of our indigenous entrepreneurs are unscrupulous, get-rich-quickly minded people whose methods of running businesses leaves a lot to be desired. Government will need to work overtime to put in place policies to prevent such conduct before the country is further ruined.

We have seen what it’s like when some indigenous people run the show. Professionalism is disregarded to its maximum. Corruption is the order of the day. Business ethics are never taken seriously. Before wholesale indigenisation is implemented, the government should let the already running indigenous businesses keep competing with foreign-based entities.

This will help them learn to appreciate professionalism and embrace business ethics. That learning curve will prove very crucial when total indigenisation policies are implemented in the future. The other problem with indigenous businesses is that they want instant profits whereas profits should gradually build up. Quick profits are usually a result of corruption.

This type of business operation does not allow or present equal opportunities to everyone but to some few usually politically-connected individuals. Zimbabwe cannot allow itself to indulge in such ways as it does not help it develop and compete on the international platform.

Don't get me wrong and construe me as painting all indigenous businesses with the same brush. Not at all! We have an example of Econet Wireless, an indigenous company which is the largest Telco in Zimbabwe, and many people envy the company and admire its prosperity. That should be commended, and I wish many local companies emulate Econet Wireless and run their enterprises likewise.

Policy makers should be urged to keep on brainstorming and formulating these invaluable policies to better the lives of Zimbabweans. Proper planning and reasoning should be the order of the day.

Ruling a country is big business and the effects should be shown by living standards of the majority. We are no longer a colony of any country, and that should motivate us to excel and refuse mediocrity.

Viva Zimbabwe.

Graham Nyakudjga is a Zimbabwean based in Australia. He can be contacted on gnyakudjga184@live.com.au


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