Zimbabwe: A New Economic Model For Africa
By Garikai Chengu
01 August, 2013
A bloodless revolution is silently taking place in Zimbabwe. President Mugabe’s Indigenisation of the land and the economy will set a precedent for the creation of a forerunning, economic model for Africa. Consequently, a victory for Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe’s election is a resounding victory for the future of the African continent.
Only ninety years ago, the British South Africa Company owned every square inch of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean land and natural resources were taken violently and divided amongst European settlers. All the while, indigenous Zimbabweans were considered subjects and assets, solely belonging to the British Crown.
After decades of liberation struggle, Africans finally placed the crown on their own heads. But, in 2013, where are the jewels of this crown?
The mining and extraction of precious resources, like oil, natural gas, gold, and platinum, enrich Western corporations. Here, we see the West’s current control over Africa’s “jewels”.
Western economic control of Africa casts a shadow of poverty throughout the continent. Whether in the Niger Delta or the Democratic Republic of Congo, the majority of people experience lives of misery and receive very little benefit from the richness of their land.
In fact, Africa's natural resources, land, and forced labour have fueled the world's economy for centuries. To this day, Africa is still the world's engine-room for economic growth.
In short, Africa fuels the global economy, while reaping little profits at home; this is the “black man's burden.” Indigenisation is designed to allow Zimbabweans to free themselves of this centuries’ old burden. Lifting this crushing millstone is our generation's greatest struggle.
At President Mugabe's last campaign rally, he proclaimed that, “we must re-write the economic books for our children. Those books were written to suite the West's agenda of exploiting our resources. Our children must know that our resources are more significant, more precious than their capital.”
Years from now, economic books will use Zimbabwe's Indigenisation Program as a model for African decolonisation. African politicians will look to Zimbabwe as a point of reference.
As with tobacco, diamonds, cocoa and oil, Africa exports its precious resources to the West, only to buy them back at a premium. This is Africa's greatest problem and biggest opportunity. The solution to this problem is simple: Africa must not only control its raw materials but also build the capacity to make them into finished products.
Indigenisation is the much needed bridge between poverty and industrialization, and therefore, transforming Africa into a first world power.
No longer will Europeans take our natural resources; no longer will they control our industrial processes. We will not be burdened; we will not be stripped of our land, our pride, our Africa.
If Africans indigenise our economies and resolutely build the capacity to refine our crude oil, gold and platinum, as well as the capability to cut and polish our diamonds, we will certainly turn this into an African century.
Clearly, Africa is not under-developed; she is over-exploited. Western foreign investors are merely foreign exploiters.
According to a recent UN Africa Progress Report, 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.
It is for this reason that Zimbabwe's new Indigenisation model emphasizes local ownership and foreign partnership with emerging nations, such as Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Zimbabwe's Indigenisation Program is as much about looking inward as it is about looking east.
Today, I say, with confidence, that Zimbabwe is the only economically liberated, black nation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Zimbabwe has proved to her African brothers and sisters that it is possible, and indeed desirable, to take back our land.
Let us now look to our recent past for guidance into our new economic future.
A few years ago, the international media houses and Western academics repeated the same, twisted narrative about the Indigenisation of Zimbabwe’s land, claiming it was an economic failure, which only benefited 'Mugabe’s cronies.'
The West’s economic sanctions on Zimbabwe were designed to cripple our economy, in an attempt to dissuade other African nations from emulating our cause.
Western sanctions sent a clear message to Africa’s landless and economically disempowered masses: “You can have your democracy, but keep the economic power in the hands of the white minority; otherwise, you’ll end up like Zimbabwe.”
The World Bank still estimates that a staggering 65% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s best arable land is still controlled by white settlers or multinational corporations. The World Bank also estimates that as much as 70% of the net wealth in Sub-Saharan Africa is owned by non-indigenous Africans or foreigners.
Clearly, the West is fine with other African nations adopting democratic governments, but any attempt to democratize the economy and the land is dealt with by NATO, the CIA, or economically destabilizing sanctions.
Nowadays, those same Western media houses and academics are admitting that Zimbabwe’s land democratization program has not only benefited over a million people, but also pioneered a more economically productive way of farming.
President Mugabe’s Indigenisation of land has created employment and support for the livelihood of over 1.7 million Zimbabweans.
This year alone, Zimbabwe raked in over a half billion dollars from tobacco sales. Before land Indigenisation, a handful of rich, white farmers would have greedily divided these profits, moving the money away from African pockets and into Western bank accounts.
In fact, the World Bank estimated that, “nearly 40 percent of Africa’s aggregate wealth has fled to foreign bank accounts.”
Indigenisation will combat this outflow of wealth by creating more African corporate owners. These local shareholders are more likely to save their rent in local banks, spend their dividends on domestic goods, and invest their profits in local businesses.
Today, 75,000 indigenous Zimbabweans benefit from the tobacco sales’ profits of a half billion dollars. Land reform is now possible in all African countries after Zimbabwe’s successful example.
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 Mr. Mugabe, but today, Zimbabweans own Zimbabwe.
By re-electing President Mugabe, the people of Zimbabwe are making history. ZANU-PF will now have five more years to finish implementing a revolutionary economic model that will inevitably spread across the continent.
Garikai Chengu is Fellow of the Du Bois Institute for African Research Harvard University. Garikai Chengu can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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