Monday, July 29, 2013

Zimbabwe Indigenisation Desmystified

Indigenisation demystified

Sunday, 28 July 2013 00:00

The indigenisation story has become one of the most topical issues in Zimbabwe with various sections giving diverse interpretations of the programme. A fortnight ago our sister radio station

Star FM (SFM) interviewed expert Mr Lee Mataruka (LM), who provided some answers to questions that are being asked about the indigenisation and economic empowerment programme. Below are the excerpts.

SFM: What is your understanding of indigenisation?

LM: Indigenisation, in essence, is about people, it is about the state and the nation. It involves people who live in a particular area.

So when you are looking at indigenisation, you are looking at a number of facets.

You are looking at the ownership, you are looking at the control and you are looking at the active participation of the citizenry of a given state or nation. Indigenisation is not necessarily Africanisation. It is a process of empowerment which requires a certain national vision, value, political orientation and philosophy.

SFM: In the Zimbabwean context, is it correct to say indigenisation is not a new concept?

LM: I can say indigenisation is not a new theory, indigenisation is not a new process in the development of our people. When colonialism came, there was resistance for an external force to come and dominate?

SFM: In other words you are saying indigenisation in Zimbabwe started with the quest for liberation?

LM: Yes, because the liberation was going to be the wholesome process for independence and then become the platform for political visionary for nation building, for creating that vision which will then be guided by the principle and values of what the majority of the indigenous people want to see for themselves.

SFM: You were explaining to us how broad indigenisation is. What has happened since 1980 when we attained our independence?

We are aware, for example, that there have been such processes as the national manpower survey and the Zimbabwe Conference for Reconstruction and Development. Would you say these were efforts directed at indigenisation?

LM: Yes, it was a deliberate process. It was part of the process then of emancipating our people from colonial institutions which were there in 1980. The first indigenisation process was having the first executive being led by a black prime minister and a cabinet which became a new dispensation.

One of the key aspects of changing the rules of the game was to come up with an economic policy framework. But also at the same time in March 1981, we had the Zimbabwe Conference on Reconstruction and Development.

Zimcod’s key main objective was to try and mobilise resources for the new government to implement its vision and policies and those policies also dealt with land resettlement.
Infrastructure development was key, public sector manpower development was key, education and health was also key, the aspect of export, import and trade development was also very key.

SFM: When you look at it from the perspective of nation building, what do you think must be done for the indigenisation programme to spread to the people?

LM: I think what must be done is for the people to understand the politics, the cause of indigenisation, as already indicated.

But for us to be able to get to economic empowerment, economic ownership and the ability to run a sustainable economic enterprise, there were certain processes which were put in place.

Education was one of them. Education needed to be sorted out, we needed as much and a broader component of our society because once you are educated you can acquire skills and knowledge.

Education is very critical, health is very critical, the distribution of health services is needed because a healthy people is the people who can have aspirations and a possibility of living a long life.

Security issues also needed to be sorted out, the integration of the army, the restructuring of the police force, all these issues needed to be sorted out before moving to the programmes that benefit people directly on a one-on-one basis.

You needed to create the foundation, the infrastructure and the framework. The economic empowerment programmes which we now have, I have said for any indigenisation process to succeed, there should be solidarity between leadership and the masses and it’s not really purely an economic problem.

A lot of people seem to think that indigenisation is a concept which has just come up in this country. Are we the first country to go this path?

SFM: In the Zimbabwean context, there have been certain concerns on economic indigenisation. One of the concerns often raised is that by adopting this policy, you are discouraging foreign direct investments to come to Zimbabwe. Is this a fact?

LM: It is not a fact because investments will still come in an indigenised economy. What the investor looks for is a return, what an investor looks for is sustainability, consistency and credibility of the rules of playing the game.

So there has to be some deliberate knowledge about the investment environment which you are going to be in.

SFM: I am aware of the fact that some Asian countries, for example, have deliberate indigenisation policies that govern the way they conduct business in their countries.

What will be the reference point for you?

LM: Our reference point will be China, if you look at China and how they have done it. They are a good example of modern-day indigenous participation in their economy.

SFM: How do you adopt a model that ensures that the benefits trickle down to every member of society?

LM: That perception is not 100 percent true, it is very true that in any society or any system you will always create functions of the ruling class, functions of a society.

SFM: Related to that is the contentious issue of who qualifies to be indigenous. How do you define the indigenous?

LM: Who qualifies to be indigenous is the prerogative of the political institutions we have put in place as a political framework. Parliament has a role to define who can be a citizen through the interpretation of the Constitution and through legislation.

SFM: In your view, what is the definition of an indigenous classification?

LM: In my view and where I am coming from, an indigenous person is any citizen in the country or any African Zimbabwean citizen.

SFM: Where do you draw the line between Africanisation and indigenisation?

LM: Africanisation can be a natural process where one can become an African without being indigenous, but I think sociologists and others will be in a better position to answer the other part.

The profile is clearly showing that those who are participating in the legislative process are Africans of Zimbabwe black origin. It is not just a process of just trying to be African without being really African.

SFM: Are Coloureds eligible for indigenisation?

LM: If they were discriminated before independence, yes they are indigenous. If they were not part and parcel of the machinery which was benefiting at the expense of the majority who had then had to take up arms to fight economic independence, yes they can qualify, but also at the end of the day, the definition is not all about Coloureds being indigenous or blacks being indigenous.

SFM: We have had organisations such as the Indigenous Business Development Centre, we have the Affirmative Action Group. How do they align with this whole process?

LM: These organisations are actually complementary. We would call in any set-up and I was there when the IBDC was launched. The principles and the values I think are entangled, the lobby groups that have been lobbying over time for certain legislation to be put through so that an enabling environment can be created and I think they have done a very good job.

SFM: How do you differentiate indigenisation from economic empowerment?

LM: Economic empowerment is a component of indigenisation but economic empowerment can enable businesspeople to start cumulating resources and invest and start developing as well as creating employment for other people. However, the two are inseparable and indigenisation can be defined as economic empowerment.

SFM: Thank you, Mr Mataruka, for your time.

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