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Africa 2012 When minds meet Erring on the side of capital


After 32 years of independence, it must be accepted that commercial and financial literacy can pose a more serious challenge to nation state building than the limitations imposed by the colonial past or the evils of imperialism.

No case demonstrates the challenge of constructing an understanding of what needs to be done to bridge the wealth gap and building an inclusive and cohesive society than the issue of economic empowerment and the role of state intervention in reducing the frontiers of poverty.

In an article entitled: Zimbabwe All for minerals, metals and land, Nathaniel Manheru provides a compelling case that links minerals, metals and land to the developmental prospects of Zimbabwe.

It is significant that the role of human beings is relegated to the supremacy of Gods creation in advancing the cause of human prosperity.

There is no doubt that the future will be kind to Manheru for sharing his worldview generously and revealing the kind of thinking that informs the choices and actions of the post-colonial regime.

When calls against regime change are made it must be understood that the State actors believe that they alone have the compass and know where to take the country, but in reality the truth lies elsewhere.

This worldview sees capital as necessarily evil and using this construction, State actors arrogate to themselves the right to think and act for citizens.

No one can doubt the importance of minerals; metals and land in human civilization and any right to such assets can and does confer on the holder significant wealth only if certain conditions are observed.

The importance of the rule of law and respect of the rights of man to their property cannot be understated for it is true that the existence of minerals and land does not in and out of itself produce income, but effort is required to transform minerals into metals and then into cash.

The need for capital to produce income is and should be obvious to all, but what is now being suggested is that predetermined outcomes can be sustainably engineered through the intermediation of the state.

In taking a point on Tendai Bitis observations when he recently addressed the Atlantic Council in the US asserting that the indigenisation law is absurd, not well- thought-out, and that due process was not being followed and it appears to him that there is a need to go back to the drawing board and say how the State can empower its people Manheru responded by saying: We are very incisive in showing why we should not be empowered under the present law which all parties and all MPs, Biti included, supported and passed.

Was the easy passage a way of blessing a weak law in order to delay or even defeat empowerment through fatal litigation? We saw this at work in the land saga, with certain elements deliberately inserting fatal clauses in the law to make the whole land reform programme legally vexatious?

And why you a black man open the flanks against your kind by raising the first legal doubts? Why this legal punctiliousness? Why this reluctance to err on the side of the poor black? And when we go back to the drawing board, does the white man stop benefiting from our heritage?

This is one case where permission for continued exploitation is granted through delay. But it does not work. When Zanu PF gets bogged down in courts of law, it goes to the highest court in the land, the people who are the final arbiters.
Biti raises a question that still begs an honest and considered response.

We all want a better life and God provided no prescription as to how this is to be achieved.
By creating the land and all that is above and below it, God must have had a plan that was premised on the creativity and innovation of human beings.

If God wanted land and minerals to be owned by the living human beings, then surely he would have put in place mechanisms to achieve the desired end?

With respect to minerals, God required than human beings put something on the plate not just to reveal the existence of minerals, but the size and quality before any extraction and processing activity could be done.

Manheru makes a valid point that Biti as not only a political actor, but a lawyer who must know what needs to be done if he believes a law is bad. This does not include making statements to foreign audiences or platforms that will not change the speed and direction of a bus on which he is an active participant as Minister of Finance.

It is common cause that a law exists and no suggestion both before the formation of the inclusive government or after that the law ought to be repealed and, if so, what alternative remedies are being offered to address the perceived injury caused by the inherited structures and the status quo.

It is evident that after 32 years of independence no space for meaningful conversation has been created to deal with the real issues that promote or impede development.

It is evident from the tone of both Manheru and Biti that there is no basis for conversation; rather, political point-scoring informs the language.

When Biti suggests the need to go back to the drawing board, he fails to acknowledge that the Parliament that passed the indigenisation law was one such board and as a legislator in good standing he must have played his part and also known what was to come.

No rational person would pass a law without a real intention to use it.

Biti must have known like everyone that the appointment of a minister to administer the law was the first step in converting an idea that says blacks are weak as contracting parties in the marketplace and that such weakness is historically determined and the passage of post-independence time will not cure the weakness into a real stick that could legally compel actors to confirm.

Saviour Kasukuwere would no doubt say that he is just doing his job like every other Cabinet minister. By targeting Kasukuwere a point is missed that a law exists, just like the Reconstruction Laws have to be given life by implemention.

The difference between the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), Public Order and Security Act (Posa), Indigenisation Law, Reconstruction Law and many other laws may ultimately be the same.

They are informed by a worldview that has to be challenged. That worldview has taken root and is founded on a misunderstanding of the construction and role of capital in the enterprise of nation state building.

The suggestion made by Manheru that courts must not be allowed to overturn a moral argument that says indigenous people have a better claim to resources and that the State was created principally to engineer outcomes must be interrogated in an open manner.

Intellectual intimidation must not have a place in any civilised society and yet the language used would suggest that some people think that they alone have a better claim to what is right for Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is a geographical fact that was there before colonialism and will always be there.

The minerals in question are older than the human beings who claim ownership to them to sufficiently expose the fallacy of the argument that empowerment can be injected into citizens merely by State action.

The poor will not get any salvation from slogans or patronising language.

The foundation of the republic is premised on the equality of men and the indivisibility of rights. If this is true, any policy that seeks to transfer rights from one to the other must be treated.

Examples exist that confirm that individuals who started the journey of life poor have been able to lift themselves up.

The rise of fame in the majority of cases is supported by hard work. A danger exists that a rise that is mitigated by elected office bearers in the State has its own limitations.

The harder one works, the luckier one can be. A worldview that says one does not need to work, but has to wait for entitlement pursuant to the operation of a law is fundamentally flawed.

The ghosts of yesterday will not be eliminated simply by pontificating, but the whispers of tomorrow provide inspiration to all who believe that God did his part, but the business of life requires effort and initiative on the part of the living.

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