Even Jonathan Moyo and Nathaniel Manheru would agree that the true purpose of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act 12/2007 Chapter 14:33 (“the Act”) was to facilitate the economic empowerment of a prescribed person defined in the act as “Indigenous Zimbabwean” meaning any person who, before the April 18, 1980, was disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on the grounds of his or her race, and any descendant of such person, and includes any company, association, syndicate or partnership of which indigenous Zimbabweans form the majority of the members or hold the controlling interest.
The revolution sought to create a bridge that indigenous Zimbabweans could then use to move from the experiences of a colonial order to a new, fair, just, prosperous and equal dispensation.
The link between native African poverty, unemployment and the colonial order was perceived to be a direct one and, therefore, this led to the intervention of the legislature to correct the glaring race-related economic and social inequalities.
In 2007 or 27 years after independence, a law was enacted to regulate the affairs and circumstances that could only have been valid for the period before independence notwithstanding the fact that the 27 years of independence had created not only new circumstances, but new citizens devoid of any personal knowledge of the material period.
Through the Act, it was hoped that the economically injured persons could enhance their bargaining power.
So when Manheru raised the question: “is there something called identity in business?” he must have known that indeed, if anything, the Act sought to change the identity of business from white to a rainbow framework.
In observing that: “So many questions, but all underlining one core issue: What is the identity of our businessmen when they seek to exploit national resources?”
Manheru must have been acutely aware that even the indigenisation programme that Zanu PF takes credit for has failed to create the kind of identity that the propaganda suggests.
The recent debate on the equity or ownership model of indigenisation that Gideon Gono weighed in on exposes the real issues that ought to be discussed outside the frame of electioneering that Moyo seems to be focussed on. When the end justifies the means then one must be cautious as proposed by Gono.
Moyo who, in an article entitled “Gono throws caution to the wind” argues that: “it’s Bhora Mughedi all the way” confirms a causal link in his construction between the indigenisation programme and the power entrenchment objective.
If Moyo had his way, he would gag Gono and in so doing limit the space of debate on what is needed to lift Zimbabwe up.
The revolution was meant to enlarge the space of ideas by allowing robust and frank discussions to take place between and among all stakeholders on key and fundamental issues that determine the future prosperity of the nation.
Regrettably, the tone and context of Moyo would seem to suggest that Zimbabwe is better off without debate, for to him, anyone associated with Zanu PF must desist from exposing the shortcomings of the indigenisation programme for political expediency.
It is not a secret that Zanu PF is going to the elections after 33 years of independence using tired arguments that are more relevant to the pre-independence era.
Such arguments include the issue of economic empowerment and the role of the State in addressing the challenges of economic inequality, unemployment and poverty.
The thesis advanced is that black Zimbabweans are poor today because of what happened in the period before 1980 and, therefore, the best medicine is to economically slow down foreigners (whites) by forcing them to restructure their shareholding in companies registered in the country.
The argument advanced by Professor Moyo is that in questioning the Zimplats Indigenisation Transaction, Gono and others are ill-advised, ill-timed, misplaced and ideologically bankrupt principally because a distorted version of the impact of this transaction is good for Zanu PF particularly in the forthcoming watershed election.
It is typical for Professor Moyo to regard anyone with divergent views as a traitor forgetting that the real traitor may very well be the person who refuses to see the folly in his argument.
The question that ought to be addressed is whether the transactions concluded so far in the name of indigenisation truly advance the cause of the revolution in terms of ensuring the equitable ownership of the nation’s resources.
In the case of the Zimplats transaction, a debate has started on the architecture of the deal, the parties involved and the financing of it.
Even Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere would confirm discussions and meetings held with him and his team in Zimbabwe and South Africa about possible options available for enhancing the participation of blacks in the economy and the reservations expressed on the model that Professor Moyo would now want the nation to believe is the most optimal one.
Moyo raises interesting arguments on the Zimplats transaction in response to Gono’s opinion piece that provide an opportunity to open the debate wider on the fundamental questions that arise from the manner in which the deal has been negotiated and concluded. The existence of a Term Sheet setting out the terms and conditions of the transaction is now common cause.
The parties to the Term Sheet would seem to include Brainworks Capital, a company registered in Zimbabwe, whose involvement in the transaction seems to be controversial.
The role of advisors in any transaction seems to be well established, but in the context of how the indigenisation framework has been positioned starting from the context in which President Robert Mugabe has been advancing the argument, it would appear that no need exists for a financial advisor principally because the quest for the participation of indigenous persons is premised on colonially induced economic disadvantage and, therefore, it is some kind of extortion requiring limited market-related actions and choices.
The argument advanced by Manheru is that the platinum in question belongs to the people of Zimbabwe and, therefore, there can be no justification of vendor financing for Zimplats cannot sell that which it does not have in its possession in the first place.
Accordingly, the transaction would not call for a financial advisor to assist with the financing of a deal in which the government of the day claims ownership of the resources.
If anything, the vendor of the resource would be the government and not the beneficiary of the prospecting or mining licences.
If it is accepted that the aim of the indigenisation policy is to confer 51% or a controlling stake to indigenous persons, then one is forced to interrogate this proposition in relation to the Zimplats transaction.
It has been announced that three parties are beneficiaries of the shares in the transaction i.e. management and employees — 10%; community trust — 10% and the Indigenous and Empowerment Board — 31% for a total of 51%.
Even simple minds would know that 10 plus 10 plus 31 does not amount to 51% control. Three oranges of different sizes, let alone same size, do not add up to one orange.
- Mutumwa Mawere is a businessman based in South Africa. He writes in his personal capacity