Cracks in new empowerment lobby group

HARARE - Cracks have emerged in new empowerment lobby group Zimbabwe Economic Empowerment Council (ZEEC) over the group’s position on government’s empowerment drive.

The affirmative action outfit yesterday made a major somersault, denying reports that Indigenisation minister Savior Kasukuwere’s drive had only benefited a small elite.

ZEEC chairperson Temba Mliswa did not pitch up for the scheduled press briefing. Instead his second-in-command Privilege Gwiba blamed private companies that have entered into empowerment deals with government for sabotaging the process.

“Companies such as Zimplats have been declaring profits for the past 21 years only to turn around and declare a loss just because they have signed a deal with communities,” Gwiba said.

“It is sabotage. We are behind minister Kasukuwere and the programme he is leading. We have never said we are against him and we cannot be against the minister.”

However, this was a major climb-down from what his boss, Mliswa said last week.

“We have not benefitted from the empowerment programme except for a few people,” Mliswa said.

“These policies and implementation schemes that Kasukuwere (Indigenisation minister) has stitched and the community trusts with companies are not true to the spirit of indigenisation.”

Mliswa told war veterans, war collaborators and Zanu PF supporters last week that his party (Zanu PF) could be headed for an election loss if it fails to address pressing issues such as empowering youths.

He said Zanu PF would be “doomed” if it ignores call by youths to meaningfully empower them.

“It’s suicidal, first of all for the party to go for elections when corruption is rife in the party,” Mliswa said.

“It’s pretty clear some people have amassed wealth from the natural resources of this country, not only that, the party is being divided because of these resources especially here in Manicaland Province.”
ZEEC secretary general Tendayi Mautsi said Mliswa wears many hats and sometimes he speaks for the occasion.

“When he spoke in Mutare, he was addressing Zanu PF activists and his message was to suit that particular audience when he talked about corruption hampering the indigenisation policy,” Mautsi said.

Mliswa has also demanded that Kasukuwere “clearly defines what he has done for youths in the country instead of giving blanket statements”.

“My question, which is very clear, why does the party think that we will win elections when we have not done much for youths?” queried Mliswa.

Zanu PF’s election manifesto for the upcoming make-or-break elections slated for sometime this year are premised on the indigenisation policy that has been blamed for investor flight.

While the party has touted the policy as a monumental success and set to transform the lives of Zimbabweans, Mliswa insists the policy had benefited only the elite.

Mliswa also seemed to concur with MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti who has warned that the tainted indigenisation deals should be reversed saying it was the only way Zanu PF could win an election.

The fiery former fitness trainer was not available for comment yesterday.

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