Affirmative Action Group (AAG) president Supa Mandiwanzira says the forthcoming indigenisation indaba is an important forum which government and industry should use to allay citizens’ and investors’ fears that the economic empowerment programme is designed to benefit those championing it.
The indaba, which is being organised by a top regional consulting firm, Africa Economic Development Strategies, will be held in Harare Wednesday.
There is discord in the country over the economic empowerment project that requires foreign-owned companies to localise 51% of their shareholding, with critics claiming the programme is designed to benefit those campaigning for black economic emancipation.
Mandiwanzira said as one of the local speakers lined up to make presentations during the indaba, he would use the platform to categorically state that some of the people firing broadsides at the indigenisation and empowerment exercise were actually the major beneficiaries.
“The indigenisation indaba is a very important meeting in the history of our country. I am actually one of the speakers at the indaba and I will tell participants to disabuse themselves of the false idea being peddled by some critics that those leading the economic empowerment programme are the only beneficiaries.
“In fact, those speaking ill of the indigenisation and empowerment exercise are the biggest beneficiaries,” said Mandiwanzira.
He said the economic empowerment programme was crucial as it gives citizens a sense of nationalism as opposed to being subjects in their country which has huge deposits of minerals that they do not own, let alone benefit from.
“The empowerment programme is very important in any nation. It helps citizens feel secure in their country. In our case, it helps turn Zimbabweans into landlords from being lodgers in their country. A lodger is forever unsafe — they do not know what will happen to them at any time,” he said.
Mandiwanzira, who is expected to talk about whether indigenisation is a neccessity or only for the chosen few cited the example of the booming tobacco sector as one major benefit of indigenisation.
He said local tobacco farmers were doing well and enjoying the fruits of their land despite joining commercial farming just under a decade ago.
“The tobacco industry is one key example of the advantages of indigenisation. Tobacco deliveries are rising every season since local farmers joined commercial farming (a few years ago),” he said.
Businessman Phillip Chiyangwa, who is also billed to speak during the indaba, said empowering locals should be supported by all level-headed people.
Chiyangwa is expected to tackle the nagging question of whether or not the majority of black entrepreneurs are ready, able and willing to participate in the indigenisation programme.
“Yes, I can tell you that local entrepreneurs are ready, capable and willing to take part in the economic empowerment programme. Locals have what it takes to push the country forward unlike what some people suggest.
“This meeting is important because we have to get together and map the way forward for the nation to grow. There is need for unanimity as regards to where the economy is going and the indigenisation indaba provides us a huge platform to get as many ideas as possible and propel the economy to greater heights,” said Chiyangwa.