By Cyril Zenda
KADOMA — Combative Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister, Patrick Zhuwao, says the country’s indigenisation law is a piece of legislation based on race, which law specifically seeks to benefit black Zimbabweans at the expense of whites, whom he said were previously “over-advantaged.”
Zhuwao made the remarks at the annual conference of indigenous building contractors here last week.
“Indigenisation is a policy based on race; that is a fact. It is a policy that specifically seeks to give black people an advantage over white people and the justification is that white people have previously been over-advantaged and we need to be clear on that… I can put it in nice ways…equitable access and so on, but ndezvevanhu vatema, ndizvozvo (it’s for black people and that is that!) and that is the bottom line,” Zhuwao said.
He said indigenisation is enshrined in the Constitution under Section 14, and is supported by several subsidiary legislation: As such, Zhuwao vowed not to negotiate with anyone when it comes to implementing the controversial law.
“I am the new Sheriff in town, and as the new Sheriff in town all I do is I don’t negotiate government policy, I don’t negotiate legislation, all I do is implement existing legislation,” Zhuwao said.
“You hear people saying let’s relook at indigenisation, they really don’t know what they are talking about and I have actually said some of the statements are (based on) ignorance. It is actually a constitutional provision and in a lot of instances, you really cannot water down a constitutional provision.
“You hear people coming up and saying ‘no-no we cannot have a one-size-fit-all model’, but there is no one-size-fit-all model, so when you see someone on television making that statement, you know that person is ignorant because they don’t know and I am not moving away from the word ignorant… it is a very ugly word, but I will not stop using it because people should not make statements on issues that they do not know,” Zhuwao said.
His interpretation of the indigenisation law seems to be at odds with that of the country’s Judiciary.
In September this year, the High Court categorically stated that it was wrong to give the law racial connotations as it is meant to benefit Zimbabweans from all walks of life.
High Court judge, Justice Priscilla Chigumba, made the remarks when she dismissed a case in which businessman, Tawanda Nyambirai, was challenging the compulsory acquisition of four of his farms by government on the basis that he was an “indigenous” Zimbabwean.
“The applicants’ papers are permeated with an unfortunate equation of the perceived meaning of ‘indigenous Zimbabweans’, with Zimbabweans of black African descent,” Justice Chigumba pointed out.
“With all due respect to the submissions put forward by the third applicant (Nyambirai), I am unable to agree that either the former or the current Constitutions entrench a policy that agricultural land must not be taken away from a black African Zimbabwean and given to another black African Zimbabwean. I am unable to accede to the contention that land that is already owned or occupied by ‘indigenous’ (read black) Zimbabweans cannot be said to be land required for resettlement purposes within the meaning of Section 16 B of the former constitution. The land reform programme is for the benefit of Zimbabweans from all walks of life. It is blind to race or colour and only bows down to gender balance and diverse community interests.” Financial Gazette