'Brilliant minds acting like empty vessels'

HARARE - Colonialism created its own distortions.

The settler community understood one cardinal principle that poverty was out of the question in the adopted home for it would have been absurd to travel far from the comfort of home to be poor.

The relationship between the settler community and poverty, unemployment and economic inequality was negative and there was no interest on the part of settlers to democratise the economic project for that would have produced absurd outcomes.

 Accordingly, native Zimbabweans were deliberately left outside the bus of opportunity and prosperity on the simple logic that if they had wanted prosperity it was argued by settlers that there was no disability on their part from leveraging on the God-given resources to deliver the promise of a better life.

The settlers never accepted the argument that the resources that no one could claim credit for creating could be considered to vest in the people who just happened to be born in the geography hosting such resources.

Using this logic, it was argued that there was no justification for blacks to claim any commercial or financial injury when such resources were mined and sold.

At the time of colonisation, it must be accepted that an indigenous plan for the exploitation of God-given resources on a commercial scale was not in place and so when after 33 years of independence, one finds that not much progress has been made in crafting a practical framework to allow indigenous people to take their rightful place in the war against poverty, unemployment and inequality, one must be concerned.

When the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act was enacted in 2007, one would have expected that the 27 years of independence would have produced a plan of action that would be premised on addressing the challenges of the day rather than a plan solely targeted at facilitating the assimilation of blacks in other people’s plans as seems evident from the few mining deals that have been concluded to date.

Is there a plan?  

The settlers evidently had a plan and the absence of generalised white poverty even in post-colonial Africa suggests something that must lead to some introspection.

However, when supposedly brilliant political minds behave as if they are empty vessels then we are all compelled to pause and reflect on the journey travelled, the craftsmanship of the stewards, and the seemingly inability to think strategically on the part of the inheritors of colonial power about prosperity, inclusivity and equity.

 Having read the article entitled: “Gono throws caution to the wind” authored by Jonathan Moyo in support of the Zimplats Indigenisation Transaction”, I came to the conclusion that when confusion is located at a place one least expects, then one must know that if there is no fundamental change of approach, poverty, unemployment and inequality will be permanent friends of Zimbabwe.

Some of the questions that arise from Moyo are as follows: Whose resources are they anyway?  

Can opportunities be prescribed?  Can resources be owned by the living?

What is the difference between resource ownership and enterprise shareholding?

 Moyo argues that: “Secondly, there’s been the juicy lie that the Zimplats indigenisation transaction is inconsistent with Zanu PF’s indigenisation ideology which, as an expression of resource nationalism, provides that the ownership of Zimbabwe’s God-given natural resources belongs to the indigenous population” in a bid to discredit any argument that attempts to correctly locate the transaction as a negation of the principles and values espoused by Zanu PF.

 One cannot meaningfully respond to Moyo’s contention that there is nothing inconsistent with Zanu PF ideology and the transaction without establishing whether thought has been invoked in crafting a coherent ideological position supporting the Act.

It is evident that Moyo makes no distinction between the State of Zimbabwe and Zanu PF.
The legal authority to implement the indigenisation programme is vested in the State of Zimbabwe.
Any learned person must know this simple detail but evidently the blindness goes a long way towards confirming that those in the corridors of power take people for granted.

Zanu PF as a political club is a step removed from State power and, therefore, has no legal nexus with the indigenisation plan.  

The fact that current minister in charge of administering the Act is a member of Zanu PF is irrelevant for he took an oath to serve the country and not his party.

It may very well be the case that Zanu PF has an indigenisation ideology but in analysing the utility and efficacy of the transaction, one is forced to look at government as a reference point.

One would naturally get the impression that Zanu PF has an ideological position on indigenisation that obviously after 33 years in power must be self-evident but in reality any person familiar with the post-colonial experience would know better.

What is Zanu PF’s position on indigenisation?  

Does the Zimplats transaction confirm to the purported position?

According to Moyo, the ideology of Zanu PF is as follows: Zanu PF ideological position is very clear and it is that all natural resources and indeed economic opportunities in our country belong to people of Zimbabwe who should have a majority share in the exploitation of those resources for generating wealth, creating employment, community empowerment and national development.

But, in the exploitation of these resources that are wholly-owned by Zimbabweans without exception, the schemes for exploiting the resources must not be confused with the ownership of the resources.

Holding 49 percent in Zimplats does not and cannot mean owning 49 percent of our platinum resource.
It means owning 49 percent of the business and the business and our platinum resource are two different things.

As Zimbabweans we will always own 100 percent of our resources although we may own 50 percent of 51 percent of the various businesses — such as Zimplats — that may from time to time exploit those resources for economic gain.

What is Moyo really trying to say in a language that a common person can understand?  

He asserts that all natural resources and economic opportunities belong to the people of Zimbabwe without defining whom in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe this means.

This leads to the question whether Zanu PF respects the Constitution that broadly defines the citizenship issue broadly to include even people who choose to acquire Zimbabwean citizenship let alone all white Zimbabweans who are 33 years old or younger.

The Constitution makes no provision of indigenous person being a special person in terms of the Bill of Rights.

The Act says clearly that the definition of an indigenous person is specific and not general as is implied in the statement above.

Precisely how can economic opportunities be prescribed?  

Is it a practical proposition that the holding of shares in all enterprises licensed to mine and process minerals should be vested in a target group?

Under what constitutional order would shares be distributed in the manner proposed by Moyo?
No democratic constitutional order would permit this kind of logic leaving the reader with the unanswered question of whether Zanu PF subscribes to the Constitution in place.

Moyo attempts mischievously to create a distinction between enterprise shareholding and resource ownership forgetting that all companies including Zimplats were licensed not by God but by the same government that Zanu PF has claimed hegemony over.

The deal whose terms are contained in the signed Term Sheet will result in the so-called indigenous entities holding shares not on a pooled basis but severally.

No individual party is expected to hold 51 percent and one cannot assume that this is consistent with the goals as set out by government.

In terms of Zimbabwean law, the right to prospect and mine resources is vested in the company and not in the holders of shares.

Any rational mind will know that shareholders are a step removed from the company as the control and management of a company is vested in directors.

It is common cause that shareholders are only entitled to income that the company has no use of and, therefore, dividends are discretionary.

There is, therefore, no other link to platinum let alone any other resource exploited through intermediation of a company for indigenous shareholders other than through shares held in the company.

No shareholder can legally and legitimately claim to be directly connected to the resource as erroneously represented by Moyo.

In terms of the transaction, only a fool would claim that post-transaction enterprise control has been divested from pre-transaction control.  

The control of Zimplats is and will remain where it has always been.

Even Mbuya Nehanda knew better than Moyo that one needs not travel on a long journey to end up worse off than where one started.

Moyo has the audacity to state that: “It is notable that those making this claim are in point of fact opposed to the equity or ownership model of indigenisation and they prefer either foreign direct investment (FDI) approaches or the so-called supply-side model touted by Gono whose logic is akin to that of a house nigger whose hopeless mentality is that it is far better to profit from selling the furniture of the house as a vendor under the spell of Maslow’s discredited hierarchy of needs than to own the house even if it does not have any furniture,” without appreciating the ignorance that informs the statement.

It is clear from the above that what has been agreed is completely different from what according to Moyo, Zanu PF believes in. - Mutumwa Mawere

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