Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Indigenization and Race Demographics in Zimbabwe

Indigenisation and race demographics

Tuesday, 24 January 2012 00:00
Innocent Katsande

The whites who settled in the then Rhodesia, most of whom were of British extraction, brought with them a Western type liberal-democratic political culture. They, however, applied it to where land ownership was concerned. They propped up some kind of "sectional democracy". The political scheme was built in such a way that black people were excluded from the system, as they were considered to be "politically immature". Regular elections characterised white politics, white supremacy, white economic security and white privilege.

Blacks were not up for discussion, as their welfare didn't matter.

When Zimbabwe gained independence, around 6 000 white commercial farmers, who made up less than 1 percent of the population, owned 70 percent of the best farming land (some of which lay without being utilised).

The new Government accepted a "willing buyer, willing seller" plan as part of the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979, among other concessions to the white minority.

As part of this agreement, land redistribution was blocked for a period of 10 years.

This was to sustain a culture whereby indigenous people were forced to live on marginal lands as Zimbabwe's best lands were reserved for mainly white landlords growing cash crops for export.

In some cases, the white farms were utilised for game ranching, giving more prominence to game hunting and the so-called eco-tourism over the need to empower local indigenous people.

Racial and class privilege were guaranteed through a network of legislation that confined the non-White populations outside the mainstream economy, indigenous people were therefore forced to be a cheap pool of labour, to be precise slaves for industry, commercial agriculture and mining. Some commentators, such as Matthew Sweet, hold Cecil Rhodes ultimately responsible.

Sweet believes that it was Cecil Rhodes who originated the racist "land grabs" in Zimbabwe.

It was Rhodes who in 1887 told the House of Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa that "the native is to be treated as a child and denied the franchise".

He said: "We must adopt a system of despotism in our relations with the barbarians of Southern Africa". According to Sweet, "In less oratorical moments, Rhodes put it even more bluntly: ‘I prefer land to niggers.'"

It is on these bases that it was decided by Government that direct intervention in the distribution of assets and opportunities was needed to resolve the economic disparities created by Rhodesian policies which had favoured whites for decades.

The Zimbabwe Government gave priority to human resource investments and support for smallholder agriculture.

Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment of Zimbabweans, though delayed, was always in the minds of our new government.

The Government's intention was to transform the economy to be representative of the demographics, specifically race demographics.

It was to be an integrated and coherent socio-economic process.

It was been a long time coming.

The Indigenisation Act (2007) is clearly aimed at redressing the imbalances of the past by seeking to substantially and equitably transfer and confer ownership, management and control of Zimbabwean financial and economic resources to the majority of the citizens.

It seeks to ensure broader and meaningful participation in the economy by indigenous black people to achieve sustainable development and prosperity.

This is what Indigenisation is about.

In the past 15 years, the victories of the indigenous Zimbabweans have been a never-ending nightmare for western governments.

This is something the western world doesn't want to see happening.

Since the Government's land reform programme beginning in the late 1990s, the western media has painted our leaders as dictators who abuse human rights to remain in power.

What is actually an issue is the fact that the western media has hidden crucial evidence in their reports as to why the land reform and indigenisation are very much opposed by western governments.

As Zimbabweans we need to be critical of the fact that the very groups and organisations that we extract our references of arguments from are linked to western powers out to destabilise Zimbabwe so that a regime change can bring about a government more compliant with their interests.

It comes as no surprise that African opposition parties are western favourites, funded by the British government and the opposition party's policy advisors have links with either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party in the US. This leads us back to the Indigenisation programme that the Government has encrusted in law and which was rejected by none other than our own opposition parties.

In an interview with Gregory Elich, Netfa Freeman, Director of the Social Action and Leadership School for Activists in 2006 said: "Nowhere on the continent have Africans taken as radical a measure toward land reform as have been done in Zimbabwe. And not only have Zimbabwe's land reforms been an inspiration for people in other African states, they have gained respect in Diaspora countries such as Venezuela, Iran, Russia, China and Bolivia. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has publicly praised Zimbabwe's land reform process as a model he would like to emulate in his country".

The world's two largest platinum miners, Anglo Platinum and Impala Platinum a British-Australian, multinational mining and resources group with headquarters in London and Melbourne, have multi-million dollar investments in Zimbabwe, while Rio Tinto has gold and diamond interests.

The successful implementation of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act means that 51 percent of these Western companies' shares are being transferred into the hands of Zimbabweans.

Is this what the fierce anti-indigenisation media stories are really about?

It seems so.

The IEEA seems to be a significant historical Act for Zimbabwe, handing over the theft of resources and land back to the black indigenous Zimbabweans.

It spells danger from a western point of view if similar measures are taken by other African governments and their control and power on the continent diminishes.

This is the real reason why Government's indigenisation policy is being demonised in the western media.

As Zimbabweans, when it comes to our national matters we need to be more critical and not simply be fooled, mobilised and worked into a frenzy. United States foreign policy includes covert actions to topple opposing foreign governments.

In 1953, the CIA, working with the British government, endorsed the military in a coup d'├ętat against the anti-British government of Iran led by Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh who had attempted to nationalise Iran's oil, threatening the interests of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.

On May 25, 2011, during his recent official visit to the UK, President Obama reaffirmed the destructive relationship between the UK and the US in an address to Parliament.

Amongst other points, Obama stated: "I've come here today to reaffirm one of the oldest; one of the strongest alliances the world has ever known".

This confirms the axis of evil pitting the British and Americans which would want to see black people and other peoples suffer for the sin of having been endowed by God with rich resources.

--Innocent Katsande is the Communications Officer for Zimbabwe Youth Council.

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