Natives as used in the headline refers to indigenous Zimbabweans which includes 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. Such persons as acknowledge by the “Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill” which was signed into law by president Mugabe in 2008, have the right to take over and control most of the foreign-owned companies in Zimbabwe. To be precise, it implies that more than 50 percent of all the businesses in the country will be transferred into local African hands.
Disregarding critics and economist who then, argued that the bill will forever destroy Zimbabwe’s already crippled economy, and those that lamented it will only bring wealth to few elite Zimbabweans and not the many poor Zimbabweans who were promised they are the beneficiaries of the bill, Mugabe signed the bill into law.
Now the 91-year-old president is set to fully enforce the law. Speaking during the official closing of the 15th Annual National People’s Conference at Victoria Falls, Mugabe stated that 2016 is the deadline for all foreign-owned firms to submit their empowerment proposals, warning that his Government will no longer tolerate any actions by such companies that continuously defy the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill.
The Herald quoted Mugabe saying; “There are companies in this country that still refuse to accept our empowerment policy in the mining sector. Well, this is 2015 and, of course, we are in December, the end of year but certainly come January and it’s 2016, that stubbornness and resistance we say should end in 2015. In 2016, we will not accept a company which refuses and rejects our policy indigenisation and empowerment in a manner in which we described.”
According to Mugabe, his government is resolved to fully utilize its resource by fully enforcing the indigenization and empowerment policy because of the harsh and illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the west and the United States.
“Some have been crying that sanctions, sanctions, that you are too hard, why don’t you accept what the Americans say, what the British say… No! we have our own philosophy, ideology and we believe that our natural resources are our own. We don’t share them with anyone else except ourselves,” Mugabe added.
While Mugabe bragged that his pan-African stance that ensured Zimbabweans maximize their benefits from the nation’s resources have earned him the respect of most African nations, he related that his government will accept and work with foreign firms that are willing to adhere to the dictates of the indigenization and empowerment policy. If such companies stick to the laws that empowered locals or government to have 51% stake in projects that involve exploitation of natural resources, they don’t have to worry about anything, Mugabe declared.
A similar policy which enabled Mugabe redistribute commercial farms owned by non-black-Africans to native Zimbabweans is widely acknowledged as the root of the economic crisis in the country. If you recall, Zimbabwe had the world’s highest inflation rate ever recorded, had a huge decline in farm output, went from a nation known as a major exporter of food to a net importer, and as well recorded a massive decline in investment.
According to economist, those were the consequences of the land redistribution policy that effectively chased many white farmers out of Zimbabwe.