Zimbabwean Capitalists Letting Down ZANU PF
Malvern Mkudu |
President Mugabe’s pursuit of Black capitalism in Zimbabwe found its roots in the 1999 invasion of white own farms. The indigenisation policy would soon follow as many ZANU PF affiliated businessmen participated in the smash and grab melee.
In pursuit of this ideology President Mugabe’s government has advocated and pursued empowerment policies that include the indigenisation policy that makes it mandatory for all business operating in the country to be 51% owned by locals. A largely nepotistic exercise, the policy has only seen those with ZANU PF cards benefiting and a few token beneficiaries who are not ZANU PF members.
A new wave or form of capitalism, the policy has seen those with political power accumulating wealth through grabbing of property and bankrupting of treasury through hefty salaries and tender fraud. A primitive version of capitalism, the focus has been accumulation rather than value creation. Some have taken over companies and properties at gunpoint. The message has been that Blacks must get rich at all costs.
President Mugabe’s policy pronouncements have nurtured an attitude of entitlement amongst the ruling elite while at the same time killing innovation. As Nathaniel Manheru alludes, the country is stuck with a capitalist group whose capital is not creating value for the nation. Like a baboon which keeps gathering maize cobs it has no intention of eating, so it is with the new group of capitalists who are accumulating farms and properties which they then lease out to foreigners.
‘Today we own the land. But what we have won, what we now own, we can’t keep. We can’t use’ is how Nathaniel Manheru sums up the situation Zimbabwe finds itself in. The capital is now in the hands of incompetent individuals. It is underutilised and the economic situation we find ourselves in is self inflicted.
The ruling elite, being the owners of capital must seek to grow their capital. Driven by their own pursuit of development, the economy directly benefits. By growing the economic cake, the pieces or crumbs that fall for the masses would also be relatively bigger in the process creating a relatively satisfied society. Capital in this country has failed to produce goods or jobs for people as the country continues to import almost everything while Zimbabweans flock outside the country in search of employment.
Reports of Phillip Chiyangwa failing to pay teachers at his school for 8 months are testament of this lazy unproductive capitalism. Moeletsi Mbeki describes capitalists of Chiyangwa’s ilk as architects of poverty and laments the lost opportunities in development that have resulted in politically connected but incompetent and greedy individuals becoming owners of capital.
A multiple farm owner and urban land, Phillip Chiyangwa owes more of his wealth success to political nepotism rather than sheer business genius. Along with other prominent business men, in this country they form part of the clique that comes from President Mugabe’s rural Zvimba.
With a history of persucting brilliant but politically unconnected business entrepreneurs there seems to be any signs that the government of President Mugabe has a solution to this under utilisation of capital. The corruption within government used to giving deals along nepotism lines means that a new crop of innovative cannot participate in the economy.
President Mugabe’s economic policy that reward entrepreneurship on a patronage system rather than promote innovation creates a moral hazard where the emphasis has been on wealth accumulation rather than wealth creation. It has created a generation of business men whose focus is to take rather than to create. Consequently capital has failed to create jobs for the millions of Zimbabweans in urban areas especially the youths who are turning to crime, drugs and alcohol.
Based on the current economic situation it is evident that ZANUcentric Black capitalism has failed to yield results. Although a lot of connect Black people now own property, the resultant form of capitalism has left the majority of Black people disempowered. More and more companies fail to pay their workers creating perfect conditions for civil unrest.
Policy stubbornness and unwillingness to compromise threatens to send the party’s revolutionary economic policies in smoke. The people need jobs today and as each day passes are getting tired of an exploitative unproductive capital. As more and more people are not paid, ZANU PF must prepare for an eventual confrontation with the masses. The other option is to rethink, the indigenisation policy, compromise, make it more inclusive and boot out unproductive capitalists.
Without the right crop of capitalists the ZIMASSET policy touted by the government of President Mugabe will end in failure. It is an experiment whose ultimate results would be the blowing up of the whole laboratory with dire consequences for all Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe is in need of a better crop of capitalists urgently. As it is, the government of President Mugabe has only managed to replace a more effective capitalist system with a less effective one overseen by his cronies.