Opinion: Mugabe Re-election Heralds ‘New’ Economic Model For Africa

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Incumbent President Robert Mugabe’s victory in the Zimbabwe general election is a victory for the economic future of the African continent, according to an editorial by Garikai Chengu in NewZimbabwe.com.

Years from now, books on economy will use Zimbabwe’s indigenization program as a model for African decolonization, the editorial says.

The Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill of 2008 gave Zimbabweans the right to take over and control many foreign-owned companies in Zimbabwe. It allowed more than 50 percent of all businesses to be transferred into local black African hands. The bill defined an indigenous Zimbabwean as “any person who, before the 18th of April 1980, was disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on the grounds of his or her race, and any descendant of such person,” according to a 2007 report in TheEconomist.

Western economic control of Africa is to blame for its poverty, the writer asserts in NewZimbabwe.com.

Africa exports its tobacco, diamonds, cocoa and oil to the West, only to buy them back at a premium. This is Africa’s greatest problem – and opportunity. The solution is simple: Africa must not only control its raw materials but must also build the capacity to make them into finished products.

Indigenization, the writer says, is the much-needed bridge between poverty and industrialization, and therefore, transforming Africa into a first world power.

If Africans indigenize their economies and refine crude oil, gold and platinum, as well as the capability to cut and polish their diamonds, this will be an African century.

“Clearly, Africa is not under-developed; she is over-exploited,” the writer says. “Western foreign investors are merely foreign exploiters.”

Chengu cites a recent U.N. Africa Progress Report that Africa loses $63 billion dollars each year through foreign multinational corporations’ illegal tax evasion and exploitative practices. This figure surpasses all the money coming into the continent through Western aid and investment, Chengu says.

“It is for this reason that Zimbabwe’s new indigenization model emphasizes local ownership and foreign partnership with emerging nations, such as Brazil, Russia, India and China,” the editorial says, omitting South Africa from the list.

Zimbabwe is the only economically liberated, black nation in Sub-Saharan Africa, the writer asserts. “Zimbabwe has proved to her African brothers and sisters that it is possible, and indeed desirable, to take back our land.”

Chengu challenges “Western academics,” who, he says, “repeated the same, twisted narrative about the indigenization of Zimbabwe’s land, claiming it was an economic failure, which only benefited ‘Mugabe’s cronies.'”

Western sanctions sent a clear message to Africa’s landless and economically disempowered masses, he said: “You can have your democracy, but keep the economic power in the hands of the white minority; otherwise, you’ll end up like Zimbabwe.”

An estimated 65 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s best arable land is still controlled by white settlers or multinational corporations, Chengu writes, citing World Bank figures. He says World Bank also estimates that as much as 70 percent of the net wealth in Sub-Saharan Africa is owned by non-indigenous Africans or foreigners.

Mugabe’s indigenization of land created employment and support for the livelihood of more than 1.7 million Zimbabweans, the editorial asserts.

Indigenization will combat the outflow of wealth by creating more African corporate owners. Local shareholders are more likely to save their money in local banks, spend it on domestic goods, and invest their profits in local businesses, he asserts.

With a rapidly growing and indigenously owned economy, many African nations will increasingly seek to emulate Zimbabwe. Years from now, African states will strive to achieve Zimbabwe’s economic success.

“Say what you want to say about Mugabe, but today, Zimbabweans own Zimbabwe,” Chengu writes.

By re-electing Mugabe, the people of Zimbabwe and the ruling party have five more years to finish implementing a revolutionary economic model that will inevitably spread across the continent, according to the NewZimbabwe.com report.

Garikai Chengu is a fellow at Harvard University’s Du Bois Institute for African Research. He is Chairman at Chengu Gold Mining Pvt. Ltd., and in the past, worked in private wealth management at Goldman Sachs, according to his LinkedIn account.