Empowerment should bring accountability

LONDON - It ought to be accepted as sound practice that when one uses services he or she should pay for them.

It should also go without saying that when one borrows money, he or she should repay the debt.

These obligations are commonsensical, universal, and their execution independent on one’s race or background.

For us, colonialism will always be a permanent background to the present-day nation-state.

The principal animus for struggles against colonialism was to redress the inequalities visited by racial difference, for example, disparities in wealth.

Most agree that in the reconstruction of the post-colonial state, black empowerment is a noble imperative.

However, a trend has emerged of appropriating this historical background and victimhood for financial again and negligent behaviour.

People are acquiring services or money but refuse to meet their financial obligations simply because they are black. In other words, with “black empowerment” now comes “black unaccountability.”

Nothing epitomises this culture more than RBZ Debt Assumption Bill passed in Parliament on Tuesday.

So we have a central bank engaging in wanton largesse to the tune of $1,3 billion in loans and farming implements to elites, including President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace in 2008.

Now, when the Bill eventually becomes law, the burden of repayment will be shifted to the taxpayer.

How unjust is this? It is the tragedy of post-colonial Africa that against the background of struggles against colonial inequalities, we have created an unjust hierarchy of privileges.

Here, we have a class of people using a State institution (Parliament) for unconscionable elite connivance at the expense of the poor.

The Bill is a gross travesty to moral principles and justice in that elite impunity is not only countenanced but legalised.

While the black empowerment project purports an all-embracing egalitarianism, it privileges what Franz Fanon called a “comprador bourgeoisie.”

Broader and genuine empowerment by the government is failing; the majority of the blacks are now trying to “empower” themselves from street corners, at times illegally.

Indigenisation minister Christopher Mushowe said about 92 percent of the youths who accessed loans from Government to start small businesses were failing to repay.

This could be the result of lack of business training or this blasé entitlement culture of black unaccountability that has become ubiquitous.

The current attempt to legalise impunity through the RBZ Debt Bill shows irredeemably how black empowerment has bred unaccountability.

Since one is black, he or she can get away with failure, debt or freebies because history permits.

But nurturing behaviour which is antithetical to good business defeats the whole object and purpose of empowerment that seeks to correct the historical imbalances.

The RBZ Debt Bill is not the only example of black unaccountability.  Recall the VIP Zesa bills scandal four years ago?

Elton Mangoma, former Energy minister in the 2009-2013 coalition, was accused of leaking a list of the comprador bourgeoisie, including Mugabe, who owed massive debts to Zesa.

Mangoma, who denies responsibility for the leak, is in a bit of bother at the moment over some allegation over tenders during his tenure as minister.

Last week’s arrest might be unconnected to the Zesa bills expose` but with Zanu PF you do not usually get away with undressing the Emperor, even handing a petition for his resignation is public humiliation enough to warrant “disappearance.”

Yet it is ordinary people like Itai Dzamara whose power is cut off.

The whole Zesa bills scandal reflects the same neglectful elitism.

Like the RBZ Debt Bill, the black elite does not feel obligated to pay for the power used mostly at their acquired farms.

Black empowerment has imparted a sense of unaccountability that is viral and harmful.

We are misappropriating our historical circumstances in an unhelpful way.

Black empowerment should come with accountability.

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