Resource nationalism must be all-inclusive

THE fourth mining indaba since the adoption of multicurrencies takes place next week against the global backdrop of growing resource nationalism, a drive towards more sustainable mining methods, and a push for transparency, accountability and overall good governance not only by mining companies but by business as a whole.

Report by Itai Masuku
An impressive array of speakers has been lined up for the meeting, drawing from major mining personalities within the region and Africa wide. The conference takes place just after the Global Competitiveness Report for 2012/13 which lists South Africa as the most competitive economy in sub-Saharan Africa and Zimbabwe is nowhere near.

 

The question remains, why does Zimbabwe still remain uncompetitive? The standard answer to this can be political, economic and social risk, with the politics being the forebear of the other two. On the issue of resource nationalism, in particular, the country’s controversial indigenisation programme pops up. But it’s not indigenisation itself that is a problem.

 

Resource nationalism and its Siamese twin sovereignty have been around since our ancestor Adam was in the Garden of Eden. He was master of his territory until, we are told, he sold out his sovereignty to the serpent. “A man’s home is his castle,” goes a well-known saying. So we simply cannot wish away resource nationalism, which world mining conglomerate Anglo American Corporation’s chairman Nicky Oppenheimer admitted at a mining indaba in South Africa earlier this year was once again reaching a crescendo among developing nations.

 
A close friend in the mining industry pointed out that countries such as India did more than Zimbabwe’s demand for 51% of equity in mining companies, embarking on full scale nationalisation. Coal India, wholly-government owned, is one of the most successful mining companies, we are told.

 
The Malaysians, for instance, long established Vision 2020, which has seen the former single export economy grow into one of the kingpins of the South East Asian economic tigers. There was political communication that enabled these people to rally around a common vision. The plan was sold to the people, so that they bought into it.

 
For Zimbabwe, many programmes are foisted upon the people, and though they may sometimes be good, they fail to find support because they are partisan and poorly communicated. But usually, they are driven by greed and serve a small clique, or collections of small cliques to the exclusion of the entire nation who are confined to the role of observer.

 

Thus Zimbabwe is a very divided nation, and a kingdom divided against itself will not stand, the holy writ tells us.  The divisions start from black and white, Shona and Ndebele and other ethnic subdivisions, and ultimately, Zanu PF versus MDCs and the attendant factions of these political groupings. What does this mean?

 
Well, it appears our political leadership has failed us, and has really been responsible for turning us into a more fractious country that is not bound by a solid common vision.

 

Resource nationalism must be all-inclusive; for a nation is a collection of several racial and ethnic groups. And it must not be partisan, none of this situation where only people from a particular political party benefit from national resources.

 

They are national, not party resources. We hope that the upcoming indaba will not be a platform for Zimbabwe to showcase its divisions in front of the potential investors, who go away more anxious and continue to sit on the fence. Then we wonder why all the truckloads of mining equipment that we see traversing our roads are not destined for Zimbabwe, but for regional countries such as Zambia, Malawi and DRC? Let’s get our mining act together.