Marginalisation of white Africans wrong

Zimbabwe’s marginalisation of White Africans

Opinion - Vince Musewe

12 June 2014

In the Zimbabwe we want, the only advantage to any Zimbabwean citizen must be through their hard work, business acumen and morals; definitely not through race or political connections.

In an interesting conversation with a Zimbabwean white couple recently, I was rather intrigued at how they described themselves as Europeans while they referred to us Zimbabwean blacks as Africans. Isn’t it rather sad that our social conditioning during colonial times still lies deep and hidden in our subconscious and continues to blind us to who we truly are?

In my opinion, our true potential lies in us as proud Africans, regardless of our skin colour, working together to develop our country for posterity. As far as I am concerned, Zimbabwean whites born and bred in Zimbabwe are Africans. There should therefore be no distinction on our heritage. We need to reject the colonial stereotype that continues to separate us.

On the flip side, a significant number of Black Zimbabweans also do not consider white Zimbabweans as Africans and this continues to fuel distrust and unnecessary division. This of course has been the work of the older generation of our politicians who grew up in Rhodesia. It has served them well to keep this distinction and therefore to have an “enemy’. This has been to a massive disadvantage to our economic development particularly in agriculture.

I must also admit there are some white fools out there who are still deeply racially prejudiced and bitter, but I want to believe they count a few.

A large number of White Zimbabwean Africans, as I call them, who I have met, are genuinely loyal and committed to this country. This is home to them. They want to see this country develop and prosper. Unfortunately most of them have been calculatingly marginalised by ZANU (PF). In fact, the irony of it is that some of these Whites are even more committed to Zimbabwe than some of our black politicians who are mostly in there for selfish reasons and not for country first.

What continues to surprise me, is that the estimated population of White Africans in Zimbabwe is a mere 30,000 compared to 13 million blacks, but still there seems to be this fear by government to fully include and engage them in our economic activity as Zimbabweans. As far as I am concerned, they no longer hold any significant racially based economic advantage as they did before given how they were dispossessed of their land properties and are now therefore disadvantaged. That cannot be good for our country.

I do not see why they cannot go back to farming if they wish; we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I understand we have 39 million hectares of agricultural land in Zimbabwe; surely there is plenty to go around and then some?

Attending an indigenisation discussion recently, I learnt that the Act seeks to advantage those who experienced disadvantages prior to 1980. That’s okay but how about those that experienced disadvantage after 1980? We as a country, both black and white, have experienced serious disadvantage since the coming into power of ZANU (PF) in 1980.

I want to argue here that more Zimbabweans have suffered disadvantage under Mugabe than under colonialism given that today, 50% of our population is less than 35 years old and are mostly unemployed. Add the estimated 3 million Zimbabweans who have left the country and don’t forget the estimated 1.2 million farm employees who lost their jobs from the land reform project, the list goes on. The fact of the matter is therefore that ALL Zimbabweans need to be empowered so that this economy may recover and we can create a normal functional society.

I think that indigenisation should be reframed and rather be about the “localisation of ownership” so that we may develop this economy together particularly in the resource sector. This localisation must mean that Zimbabwean citizens, regardless of race, must own our natural assets and apply them to the benefit of the country.

I remember reading the inauguration speech of a famous President who stated in 1980 that racism is wrong whether practised by blacks or whites. He happens to still be our President today but sadly his term has really been about racism and marginalisation of white Zimbabwean Africans.

I really don’t have the patience for a few white racists that still breathe amongst us. I also don’t care much about black racists who whine about the past as if it happened yesterday and use it as a weapon of exclusion and exploitation. We really ought to create and inclusive agenda for economic revival where our skills to add value become more important than the colour of our skin or the colonial labels we use.

Let us get white Zimbabwean Africans busy and take advantage of their skills and experience and not use indigenisation as an excuse. Let us maximise local and not racial ownership of our economy because our future generations can only benefit from it.

On the side of Whites in Zimbabwe, it is important that they begin to label themselves as Africans and not Europeans because this unnecessarily feeds into the racial stereotype and marginalises them in their own country. They must also accept that we are equal to them.

In the Zimbabwe we want, the only advantage to any Zimbabwean citizen must be through their hard work, business acumen and morals; definitely not through race or political connections.

Zimbabweans come first!

Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on vtmusewe@gmail.com