The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Join the Winning Team, Mr PM

opinion

It can no longer be wished away that we are a people and nation whose being is now defined by our pursuit of economic emancipation and attainment of prosperity. Zimbabwe's black majority, emerging from colonialism as a disadvantaged lot, has declared its intention at achieving economic democracy.

It was with interest then that we read of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's views on economic matters and what they point to the economic direction he would have us embark upon as a people and nation if he is given the opportunity.

On the land question he has had to admit that "it is now impossible to reverse the land programme, so it is a fait accompli." It is indeed endorsement of the firm reality that now constitutes Zimbabwe's redefined land ownership, now in favour of the black majority and not the white interests surely bitter and displeased with a hired MDC-T's failure to deliver. It is hard reality, for a party infamous for receiving cheques from the bitter former white farmers.

And now the leader of the MDC-T must concede to the land taking root in the hands of the black majority.

It is a democratic majority whose interest in land can no longer be challenged. Yet much as the Prime Minister will admit such reality he will avoid answering why it is so, why the reclaiming of land by the black majority is now irreversible?

The answer bears political cost the Prime Minister would not wish to gamble upon. It is after all Zanu-PF that led the people upon pursuit of land, saw them reach its biblical promise.

Moreso, President Mugabe and Zanu-PF's greatest achievement is that they have caused the indigenous majority to love the land and appreciate its value. With every harvest the black farmer holds fast to the land, becomes more vigilant in ensuring it is not usurped yet again. Land reform has become irreversible because the indigenous farmer increasingly makes the land productive and realises its economic value. Isn't it belated then that the Tsvangirai now gives counsel that we "enhance productivity" of the land and ensure it is "an economic tool".

Was this not already what President Mugabe envisioned more than a decade earlier when he embarked us upon land reform? President Mugabe and Zanu-PF had anticipated that the indigenous majority would make the land productive with all the odds to be placed against them.

They had faith that we would begin to use land as the tool to reshape the foundations of an economy to become our own. Yet now Tsvangirai, whose party condemned such land reform, seeks political relevance by claiming to guide the course land should now take.

It is a course already set and long embarked upon by another and so they seek to claim and skin the catch of another. Who really then makes land a "political tool"?

MDC-T sees a land policy authored by Zanu-PF for indigenous Zimbabweans delivering. It is a land policy that now exonerates Zanu-PF before the democratic majority. Desperate to maintain relevance on matters of land the MDC-T creates the usual fictitious "outstanding" issues, says that land distribution marginalises on political ground.

With respect, the Prime Minister forgets that it was the MDC's partisan politics that alienated their indigenous supporters from the land at that critical and opportune moment when the act of reclaiming the land had to be boldly pursued and executed.

It was then they chose to parrot white interests among them, joined the chorus that land reform was an illegal "invasion" and that the indigenous majority had no capacity to work the land and reap its sustenance.

Now that their betrayed indigenous constituency envies reclaimed land they point at Zanu-PF, maliciously accusing it of partisan land distribution. It is pride that bars them from humbly seeking inclusion among kith and kin, a request sure to be embraced given a people's reunited common interest and purpose. The MDC drove the political wedge when it embarked upon partisan political posturing, itself oriented toward white interests. To now claim that land is a political tool is cheap political calculation to maintain relevance. And no lesson has been learnt as the MDC-T does it again with indigenisation, alienates its supporters by playing partisan politics in yet another ill advised attempt to discredit and stop indigenisation and economic empowerment.

Zanu-PF advocates broad-based indigenisation and empowerment to guarantee the indigenous majority at least 51 percent of the economy. While President Mugabe laments ownership of our economy, pleads that we see the wisdom in owning and controlling our natural resources -- Prime Minister Tsvangirai advises that jobs are the priority.

Will an indigenised economy not guarantee jobs, much as we now see land cultivated by indigenous farmers reaping harvest and remedying hunger?

The Prime Minister and his party would prefer we leave the economy with foreign investors believing they will best guarantee us jobs. These are the same foreign investors that have caused millions in their own counties to lose jobs, to be made destitute.

It is these foreign investors, who caused the biggest Western economies into recession, which we are told must be our economic messiahs. We perish, don't we, from ignorance in the face of truth.

The Prime Minister speaks of the "need for upliftment of the largely impoverished citizens of Zimbabwe" yet sees no rationale in placing Zimbabwe's vast natural resources into the hands of the same impoverished majority.

Can our dependants and future generations inherit such jobs to sustain their livelihoods and keep poverty at bay, or is it not our investment of the wealth derived from land and natural resources that will be a sustaining inheritance? Indigenisation has just seen the launching of yet another community share ownership trust in Marange, guaranteeing a multitude of rural Zimbabweans millions of dollars and 10 percent shareholding in companies mining among the world's largest mineral reserves.

In Nyanga, a youth empowerment zone has been created, where young potato farmers set on establishing the largest potato growing area in the country have received US$200 000. Will they not contribute immensely to restoring an agricultural economy that once was Zimbabwe's back bone, while developing their community remembered as "Little England"?

Yet the Prime Minister would discredit such programmes, clearly more for partisan political mileage than upon merit. He claims they " . . . enrich a few elites at the expense of the broad masses". We must ask then, are the 50 youths from Nyanga's farming community and the hundreds of youth across the country now motivated to establish youth empowerment zones "elites"?

Do the thousands of Marange, Gwanda, Mhondoro Ngezi and Zvimba, and Zvishavane community members now guaranteeing their development and prosperity from diamond, platinum and gold revenues constitute an "elite"?

The same Prime Minister will claim that "rural development is very key in wealth creation and poverty alleviation and therefore the policy of empowerment must ensure that the majority of the people are brought into the economic net".

But how, Mr Prime Minister, shall such development and prosperity be achieved if not through ensuring that the same rural communities have a direct share in the wealth of their exploited natural resources, surely not by breaking their backs from working in these mines for meagre wages?

Is not "broad based" empowerment being witnessed through community trusts and youth empowerment zones the answer? We are left more confused then, about what policy it is the Prime Minister and his party might offer to guide our economic aspirations.

What path would the MDC-T have us walk should it ever assume leadership of this nation's economic destiny? Shall it be a path for the indigenous majority or shall such path lead our national wealth to the seas where it shall be ferried to sustain western economies while we remain the poorer?

Are we to place our faith then in a party's leadership that will claim to want development and an end to impoverishment yet deny the same underdeveloped and impoverished majority ownership and control of the means of production essential to achieving prosperity? A decade on, the policy on land and its authors/advocates are now being exonerated of allegations that they spelt hunger and doom for our nation.

Must it take indigenisation the same grueling period? Or shall we see resolute leadership dictate that indigenisation hastens to bear fruit for its beneficiaries.

Community trusts now financially capacitated must be seen to take progressive steps toward achieving their socio-economic objectives while young empowered entrepreneurs must begin to rise and make their mark upon the economy.

Economic matters demand immediate and tangible return, they are matters of the stomach aren't they, and can easily cause disenchantment and reprisal from unfulfilled expectations.

Indigenisation stirs hope in a people that have endured a decade of orchestrated economic deprivation. It is most critical then that indigenisation begins to show its worth to a restless people's socio-economic aspirations.

Nyamurundira is a lawyer and indigenisation/empowerment consultant based in Harare

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