Home » Industry » Making Indigenisation Work [opinion]

IT is not hyperbole to suggest that Zimbabwe stands in a telling dilemma between classical liberalism and libertarian socialism. Some would argue that the real dilemma is between blatant liberal capitalism and state capitalism, but it is hard to contextualise the indigenisation policy within the confines capitalism, especially when one looks at programs like the election-winning Community Share Schemes, or the popular land reform program.

Ideologically classical liberalism and libertarian socialism are in agreement that state functions are repressive in business, or in economic affairs in general. While the classical capitalist aocates a completely privatised economic sector with zero interference from the state, the libertarian socialist insists that state power must be eliminated in favour of democratic organisation of the industrial society, with direct popular control over all resources and economic institutions.

We spoke similar language when we reclaimed Zimbabwe’s colonially occupied land, preaching that all we wanted were the landless masses to take over control of the land resource.

We also said the Community Share Schemes of 2012 were meant to give our villagers a measure of control over the mineral resources in their communities, and we agreed that these communities would benefit immensely from the proceeds of mining within their confines.

The state’s role would be to facilitate the empowerment of our villagers, or so the over promising Cabinet Ministers told us.

Direct popular control of resources and economic institutions by those who are considered entitled beneficiaries is a very popular phenomenon, but we have seen glaring failures with most of such popular policies. We have also seen stunning successes in Cuba and Venezuela, even in Gaddafi’s Libya.

It is quite reasonable to imagine a just system where workers’ councils play a huge part in labour matters, consumer councils determine the prices of goods, community assemblies determine the infrastructural development of their respective areas, and so on and so forth. It is sweet to imagine a system where the welfare of villagers is taken care of by proceeds from the Community Share Schemes, and precisely that is why the voters gave Zanu-PF a chance to implement this irresistible policy.

We were told the CSOTs would bring to our people the kind of representation that is direct and irrevocable, with the representatives directly answerable to the masses, or whatever social group for which they were meant to speak and stand.

While classical liberalism can be dismissed as the undisputed vehicle of post-colonial imperialism, it is important that we ask ourselves whether libertarian socialism is feasible in a society like Zimbabwe.

We know that the Community Share Ownership Schemes were hit hard by corruption before they were even implemented, and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee dealing with the issue has already unearthed revealing nepotism and corruption in regards to one such scheme in Manicaland.

There is little doubt that almost no villager has realised any benefit from any of the proclaimed 59 such schemes, and it is quite a long shot to hope there will ever be any such benefit going the way of our poor people. Realists argue that popular communal control and popular communal benefit in matters of business are concepts exceptionally contrary to human nature, and they argue that those put in charge of such control would naturally seek personal benefit ahead of the collective expectation of all others. In this context there is a tacit agreement that whoever is put in charge is bound to benefit themselves and their people more than anyone else, and to many this is understandable.

This is why the Kwekwe mayor Matenda Titos Madzoke who is reported to be cycling to work after turning down a four-wheel drive vehicle package is not an inspiration to many aspiring leaders, just like David Coltart was not admired much by his colleagues in the inclusive Government when he equally chose not to be associated with the traditional culture of opulence among our Cabinet Ministers.

Those who adjust their lifestyles upwards once they secure public office are seen as more natural than those who choose to remain in humble living.

Another argument put forward by realists is that collectivity is incompatible with the demands of efficiency. Communally owned economic processes are not driven by competition and selfish gain, and as such they are not carried out in the most efficient of manners.

Let us consider the first argument. If people really want land, do they want the responsibility that goes with meaningfully utilising that land, or would they prefer to be employed by someone committed enough to develop that land for meaningful agricultural production?

If people really want Community Share Ownership Schemes, are they prepared for the responsibility that comes with making sure such schemes are a success, or they are happier with someone in central government determining for them the pace and direction of infrastructural development in their community?

In asking these questions, am I not reviving the long discredited happy slave mentality? But we need an answer to why we have so much fallow land some 14 years after redistributing it to our people. And we must have an answer as to why there is no meaningful evidence of any direct benefit for our villagers who are supposed to be smiling through the promised trickle down effect of Community Share Schemes.

Simply put, we need to see the benefits of our popular policies, especially those to do with the welfare of our people.

We must denounce without fear the sophistic politicians and intellectuals who always bring up ways to obscure the facts when it comes to accountability. They tell people that popular policies are a measure of the people’s emancipation, only to switch on to yet another form of sweet rhetoric before any of the preached popular policies yields any tangible results. Our politicians are fervently committed to populism, but they are ruthlessly notorious for shunning responsibility for the implementation of their own policies.

We have to castigate any leadership that attributes to our people a natural inclination to chains. Our people are ready for the land reform programme, and so are they for economic empowerment of the indigenous person. There is no doubt about that. It is our political leaders who believe that there is incessant peace in the poverty of our people.

They believe there is an understandable sense of repose enjoyed by our people in their chains, and to most of our politicians the best that our poor people deserve is recklessly promised hope, similar to the hope given by populist prophets to their divinely loyal followers.

We are aware of how our people scorn at the voluptuousness of our corrupt political leadership, but our politicians are convinced that it does not behoove the voter to reason too much about accountability. So our people are pointed the direction of Western detractors and their genuinely ruinous economic sanctions, or in the direction of the self-destructing Morgan Tsvangirai and his endless political tribulations. Rarely do we get our people’s emotions whipped towards the accountability of those in power.

Emancipation can never come to our people on the basis of them being ripe or mature for it.

One cannot arrive at the maturity of emancipation without having already acquired the emancipation.

That is why we needed to acquire land before we could talk of expert use of that land, and that is why we must acquire shares in the economic production sector before we become expert entrepreneurs. It cannot work the other way round.

Classical liberalism teaches us expertise before emancipation, and that is why the land reform programme was denounced in the West as chaotic and promoting the “resettlement of unskilled farmers.”

One must be a commercial farmer to make use of one’s powers as such. You cannot acquire the skills of a commercial farmer by pretending to be one from the backyard of your village hut, or to be a miner by pretending to be one from the comfort of your home.

It is given the first attempts at any form of emancipation are bound to be painful and dangerous, even more precarious than the previous conditions, and we are aware of this through what happened to Zimbabwe’s agrarian sector after the year 2000.

We have been reminded quite affectionately about how the country was reduced “from the bread basket of Southern Africa to a basket case.”0

We must understand that one can only achieve success through one’s experiences, and it is important that our people are given the chance to pursue such experiences.

No rational person will approve of hunger and famine, especially if perceived as caused by human misjudgement, and this explains the 2008 protest vote against Zanu-PF.

Equally no rational person will countenance unemployment, and that is why urban voters continue to vote against Zanu-PF in urban areas.

At the same time, no person of understanding or humanity will readily condemn the redistributing of land to benefit colonially dispossessed people, or denounce the violence that often occurs when long-subdued masses rise against their oppressors, or take steps towards correcting oppressive imbalances. No sane person can oppose the principle of economic empowerment for indigenous Zimbabweans. Nothing will promote indigenisation of the Zimbabwean economy more than indigenisation itself, just like nothing will promote the indigenous commercial farmer more than the land reform program of 2000.

This truth will not be accepted by those who have so often argued about the unripeness of the black person — those that have argued about the unskilled status of the black person on matters of commercialised farming. Ian Smith once argued that the black person needed a thousand years to ripen to the level of self-governance. But surely nothing ripens the black person faster than allowing black rule to happen, even if the rulership was as shocking as that of Mobutu Sese Seko, or as controversial as that of Jacob Zuma.

We have a duty as a people to guard against perpetual incapacity to run our own affairs in a successful way. This arises from a want of moral and intellectual power.

We are led by some of the most morally bankrupt political leaders in the world, many of whom have breathtaking intellectual weaknesses, especially blatant laziness.

For us to ripe as a nation we must address the want for moral uprightness, and we must of necessity establish think tanks whose research and aice must guide our policy formulation and implementation.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome.

It is homeland or death!

REASON WAFAWAROVA is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia

Source : The Herald