Hardly noticed by gullible analysts and political opportunists who have been stumbling over each other to praise the Mid-Term Plan (MTP), which was launched last week, are glaring contradictions between the contents of the documents and recent pronouncements by politicians.
The MTP is a product of government and was approved by Cabinet. Members of Cabinet it would follow should be guided by policy pronouncements in the economic plan before making policy statements.
But failings in the GNU were apparent last week when a ministerial statement on the emotive indigenisation policy conflicted with what government had said it would do under the MTP.
Last Tuesday news reports quoted Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere rejecting mining industry proposals on empowerment credits.
The reports quoted the ministers attacking mining companies for trying to evade the indigenisation process by offering various excuses.
Zimbabwe’s mining industry, through the Chamber of Mines, has proposed that spending in social investments should be converted into empowerment credits under the indigenisation programme, a situation Kasukuwere said was not acceptable.
The Chamber of Mines had proposed to comply with the 51% local ownership laws by selling 26% equity stakes and making up the remaining 25% with empowerment credits comprising corporate social investment, local procurement and skills development.
The minister, according to the reports, said Cabinet had made the decision to reject the mining industry proposal which he said was a way of evading the indigenisation programme.
“Mining companies operating in Zimbabwe will not be given the so-called empowerment credits for social initiatives and will not be discussed as most of the proposals submitted so far fall short of government’s expectations,” said Kasukuwere.
He accused the Chamber of Mines of making a co-ordinated effort to stifle the indigenisation of the mining sector as they prefer the South Africa model which stipulates 26% for indigenisation, while the 25% is covered by corporate social responsibility programmes. He said government would use the law to correct this anomaly.
Two days later, this position, which Kasukuwere said had been rejected by Cabinet, was clearly stated in the MTP as government plan on indigenisation. For the avoidance of doubt, let me quote the last paragraph of Page 141 of the MTP document:
“. . . Government will prepare guidelines on acceptable forms of CSR (corporate social responsibility) for the mining sector. These guidelines will include incentives for mining companies to invest in CSR, such as equity credit under the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act and tax credits,” the MTP document says.
Government has said it would encourage greater implementation of CSR activities in the mining sector and this policy would be included in the Mines and Minerals Act.
Now which Cabinet approved this part of the MTP? And is it the same Cabinet Kasukuwere said shot down the same proposal?
This is the surest way to deter investors from coming into this market. The double-speak and contradictions of this nature undermine government’s own policies.
This is a clear demonstration of how the GNU is driven by competing and conflicting ideologies.
What is most unfortunate about the situation in this country is that what’s in government policy documents is not necessarily the law.
Policy is pronounced at rallies and at the spur of the moment. More often than not it’s those working at cross purposes to documented policies who win the day.
We saw the trend in the execution of the land reform programme when certain characters worked feverishly to ensure that the land audit stalled and the one-man/one-farm policy dropped.
Picture this scenario: mining investors visiting Economic Planning and Investment Promotion minister Tapiwa Mashakada will be assured that government is pursuing a broad-based empowerment policy in which the empowerment credits are part of the menu.
When the same investors visit Kasukuwere’s office they will be told that empowerment credits will not be tolerated.