5 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Community Share Ownership Scheme Politicised, Polluted

press release

The MDC's position is that Kasukuwere's Community Share Ownership charade is nothing but another ploy to hoodwink voters ahead of elections.

The Community Share Ownership Scheme in its current form is tantamount to theft by Zanu PF where companies are arm-twisted into supporting an illegal scheme that has no credence in a normal country. Zanu PF is on a crusade to fleece companies in order to fund its election war chest. The recent revelation of corruption in Manicaland where the Zanu PF provincial leaders extorted over US$700 000 from mining firms is just a tip of the iceberg. The MDC will continue to boldly and candidly expose Zanu PF's dishonest and insincerity in this whole facade of empowering people.

The MDC has robust policies that will grow the economy for the benefit of all Zimbabweans, and not just party cronies. Our mining policy explicitly spells out that as part of corporate social responsibility, mining companies are to ensure the provision of housing, health facilities, roads, schools, water and sanitation facilities in the communities they operate in.

The MDC will also establish a proper Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) which will be financed and managed through clearly defined statutes on Resource Rent Tax not donations or bribes as manifested in Kasukuwere's Community Share Ownership Scheme. The Sovereign Wealth Fund will be funded by ring-fencing the Resource Rent Tax (RRT) to invest in long term projects and instruments that ensure economic prosperity beyond the depletion of our mineral resources.

Kasukuwere's empowerment scheme is a replica of the usual Zanu PF's unstructured policies on land expropriation, thus his indigenisation programme is carried out in an opaque and often corrupt manner. Just recently Kasukuwere "went to town" claiming to have raised US$4 billion for the government's National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund (NIEEF) and community trusts.

Surprisingly he has not given the same publicity of the record of payments being made nor of the share transfers to the National Indigenisation Fund. Therefore the fund being created by Kasukuwere lacks a clearly defined structure, financing and staffing and proper legal existence. The fund clearly lacks any institutional structure for transparency and accountability.

In normal circumstances, a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) should be responsible to, but independent of, government ministries. It should be established under the ambit of the finance ministry, with an autonomous board made up of professionals just like other quasi-government entities like the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

The people of Zimbabwe should be made aware that the issue of Community Share Ownership Scheme is not a new phenomenon, but rather has been part and parcel of corporate social responsibility of companies since time immemorial. It is thus very wrong for Zanu PF to now run with the programme as if it is their initiative. Instead of supporting companies who have all along been carrying out these programmes professionally and transparently, Zanu PF has in fact high jacked this noble undertaking, laced it with political overtones while at the same time extorting money from these companies.

The MDC believes that the role of the state should be to create conditions for enterprises and individuals to flourish and not to decimate existing businesses under the guise of empowerment. Following more than a decade of economic regression Zimbabwe requires access to investment capital and this can only be unlocked by a sound policy regime.

The people of Zimbabwe do not want handouts. They want a government with forward looking and sustainable policies to allow them to live to their full potential. They want a government with a vision to drive this country forward. They want a government with policies that can create jobs, attract investment from domestic and international sources, and put in place measures towards rural transformation and mass upliftment.

This is why over 78% of Zimbabweans concur with the MDC that the current policy of indigenisation is inimical to development and economic growth. It is narrow and only meant to enrich a few politically connected people. It is a continuation of a patronage system that has been at the epicentre of destroying this economy.

Zimbabweans are not lazy. They want to work for themselves, to provide for their families and communities and they want to develop their country.

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