Sunday, March 09, 2008

“Indigenisation” for Zimabawe

SOURCE: The Guardian—“Mugabe approves Zimbabwe nationalization law”

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe this weekend approved the controversial Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill, which seeks to allow members of the nation’s impoverished majority to take control of foreign-owned corporate interests, including mines and banks.

The government claims it will work with businesses to set up a timetable for the establishment of local control in an attempt to allay fears of blanket seizure. Many critics compare the indigenisation policy to a much-criticized 2000 land reform program that sought to transfer fertile farmland from British colonists to Zimbabwean natives. The plan was heavily criticized because the removals were often violent and the new landowners inexperienced at farming, resulting in poor yields.

Critics contend that this is yet another disastrous move in a long line of efforts by Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since the British withdrew from colonial rule in 1980. While critics point to the 100,000% inflation rate and investor flight to support their claims, they provide little to no commentary on the proper manner to remodel the Zimbabwean economy towards a structure that is inclusive of the majority indigenous population, which was oppressed an excluded from the economy during the nations colonial period, which lasted from 1890 to 1980.

Mugabe faces a re-election fight later this year and some critics claim that this move is directed at gaining popular support from the impoverished majority.


Some observers accede that the indigenisation program is an attempt to restructure Zimababwe’s economy, which still suffers from inequities that were reified during nearly a century of colonial rule.

President Mugabe is widely excoriated as a ruthless dictator, and as a result may not be the best spokesperson for the effort to heal Zimbabwe’s economic and cultural wounds in this post-colonial era. However, other countries, such as Mexico and Venezuela, have nationalized valuable natural resources in efforts to reclaim economic power that their leaders felt had wrongly been turned over to foreign interests.

How are developing nations recovering from colonial rule to establish a government that truly works for the interests of its own citizens if the economic structures and benefits established under colonialism are permitted to remain?

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