This is revealed in a letter, dated March 12, to Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere written by suspended Zanu PF Bulawayo chairman Isaac Dakamela and provincial indigenisation and economic empowerment secretary Charles Chiponda in which the two say the empowerment programme is aimed at luring the electorate to rally behind President Robert Mugabe and his party.
Zanu PF used land reform as the centerpiece of its campaigns in the past elections after 2000. The two provincial leaders said the indigenisation programme was the last political card their party wields to get voters ahead of watershed elections.
“Taking into consideration that the indigenisation programme is our party’s tool for political mobilisation and that its success will translate into an electoral victory, we strongly believe that Bulawayo will win back most of its parliamentary seats through the programme,” the letter says.
“However, in pursuit of the programme, Bulawayo province is experiencing very strong resistance from foreign-owned mines and companies who get support from our detractors, the independent press, legal firms and some misguided law enforcement agents. Our province needs your support and stands ready to send a delegation to your offices to present our case.”
Dakamela confirmed writing the letter but declined to discuss the matter. Kasukuwere was not available for comment as his mobile phone went unanswered.
The letter was also sent to party national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, political commissar Webster Shamu, Bulawayo Governor Cain Mathema (pictured) who is the party’s deputy spokesman, and other politburo members in Matabeleland.
Kasukuwere is on a crusade to force foreign-owned companies, including mines and banks, to surrender 51% equities to locals without compensation.
His move amounts to expropriation or nationalisation.
The indigenisation law has been criticised for lack of clarity. For instance Section 3 of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment says it shall be the “endeavour” of government to ensure that every company in Zimbabwe that is foreign-owned is at least 51%-owned locally.
Analysts say words like “endeavour” do not mean what Kasukuwere is doing now. Kasukuwere recently published a notice warning that mining companies that failed to meet last year’s September 25 deadline should note that 51% of their shareholding would now be deemed to be owned by the state. However, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai dismissed that position, saying it was not government policy.
Mathema, in his address during the Governor’s Ball on Tuesday evening, said indigenisation was an empowerment programme to ensure black people gain the means of production.
“We can’t talk about Independence if we ignore indigenisation. People say they want freedom of expression, but that is pointless if you don’t have the means of production,” he said.
In his message to mark the 32nd Independence Day celebrations, Tsvangirai said Zanu PF was using the indigenisation programme to gain political mileage.
“We have disagreed in this government because there are others who want to perpetuate the old culture of expropriation, looting and self-aggrandisement clad in new and misleading nomenclature such as ‘indigenisation’,” he said.