Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Indigenisation should be a lifestyle

By Nick Mangwana

The habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group is what is known as a lifestyle. Indigenisation is one such ideology which should move from rent seeking behavior to a lifestyle.

Indigenisation should be about local companies being given opportunities to participate in sectors of the economy which was a preserve of multinationals or foreign companies which are fronted by locals. It is the participation of domestic companies in substituting a foreign product with a local or indigenous product. This will make Zimbabwe keep its money at the same time empower the indigenous people and their businesses.
If you keep your dollar close to you, you will make a difference locally. Buying locally boosts local economy. In fact buying locally is the biggest Indigenisation that can ever be. How else can you empower people than to empower that are already in business?  If Indigenisation is about taking shares of companies and warehousing them and someone makes money, then clearly there is something amiss.
How can we value shares and not the local people already in business? How are we doing that, you may ask. Well, when we import everything in our houses including the basic furniture are we promoting our indigenous businesses? When every piece of furniture in our house is imported, everything cooked in our houses is imported and every piece of apparel on our body is imported? Is this not making a mockery of the Indigenisation policy?
Is Indigenisation not a lifestyle? When we import candles when we know that even some domestic backstreet industry can make. Why in Heaven’s name are we importing those from far afield when the indigenous people can and are making them but are being suffocated by out of the market? Small enterprise is the backbone of every successful economy but we undermine our local people.  This writer does not believe Indigenisation is about stock. Indigenisation is empowering local communities. Indigenisation is a lifestyle. Indigenisation is the easy decision one makes when confronted with an option of buying something made by their neighbour as opposed to buying something made in a neighbouring country. They will opt to buy the indigenous product therefore promoting the indigenous producer and by that process economically empower them.  When looked at that way, Indigenisation stops being a dogma. It becomes a way of life.
Indigenisation is when there is pride in using anything with the label, “Made in Zimbabwe” because the local standards have been raised so high by the fact that the locals that are buying these products. They then are feeding back and quality is not be compromised. 
Italian furniture maybe flamboyant and glossy but it is never better than Mukwa. How can faux wood be better than hardwood? Local supermarkets should buy directly from Zimbabwean farmers. The Zimbabwean consumer should be encouraged to shun those supermarkets full of imported groceries.  The British have managed to make s British sticker a brand of choice for the local consumer but in Zimbabwe we have this exotic taste for anything imported?

Do we know that there is a contested scientific link between imported foods on which antibiotics and herbicides have been used and the proliferation of allergies in a population? A lot of children born with conditions such as eczema are as a result of these imported foods whose method of production we are not even aware of. So promoting the Indigenous farmer is promoting good health for the nation as well. Let us turn Indigenisation into a lifestyle.

Let us circulate our local dollars amongst each other. Not this argument we are hearing that on the  Bond note, “how am I going to buy things from SA or Zambia?” The simple answer is, don’t.  But then the they will point to the fact that these goods are cheaper and the profit margins better. But if the attitude of the consumer is that these goods are not only affordable in price but also cheap in value then there will be a market resistance and those margins will transfer to local products as the demand for these will rise as well.  But for this to work it has to start with the leadership working on its own appetite for goods foreign.  Let us promote local artists at our functions, just like Oliver Mtukudzi at the Million Man March. Imagine if we the Youth had brought in Kofi Olomide or Jayzee? It would have been totally incongruous, right? If our Indigenisation thrust is not a political hyperbole then let it translate into our lifestyles. But if it’s a ploy at self-enrichment then it will happen in boardrooms with a few share certificates changing hands at the top somewhere. Why should one support such an enterprise? Why would it matter to the common man  that Old Mutual‘s 49% which was owned by Mr Joe Blogs is now owned by Mr Magodoza Makanga? Why should an ordinary Zimbabwean celebrate this? The only people that should celebrate are Mr Makanga and his family.

It is the community empowerment part of the Indigenisation and economic empowerment that makes people sees them in this ideology.  Add to that if a situation was to obtain where a company was owned by a local person starts promoting the local economy by buying from it and selling to it.

Indigenisation is not about company shares. It is not about a creating a petit bourgeoisie of black oligarchs that owns and control things in Zimbabwe. It is about promoting efforts by indigenous people. It is about having a taste of Zimbabwe in our whole lifestyle.  Clothes from Zimbabwean cotton all the way to Zimbabwean eggs and sausage. 

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