Zimbabweans most economically empowered

19 Apr, 2021 - 00:04 0 Views
Zimbabweans most economically empowered Mr Boka

The Herald

Business Reporters 

Millions of Zimbabweans across the country joined President Mnangagwa yesterday in celebrating the country’s 41st anniversary of independence, coming on the back of numerous achievements scored in the endeavour to economically empower previously marginalised people.

Since attaining Uhuru in 1980, the Government has spearhead many people driven economic empowerment policies that culminated with the hugely successful historic land reform programme.

The programme, that is emulated by many countries in Africa and the world over, has seen many jurisdictions amending their national constitutions to accommodate land redistribution as a tool for empowerment.

As Zimbabweans reminiscent the struggle that saw many gallant sons and daughters perishing in their quest for Zimbabwe to have political and economic independence, there are many spheres of the economy where indigenous people have become masters on their own right.

The last 41 years have seen Zimbabweans, including the youths and women becoming major players in critical sectors of the economy such as mining, agriculture, manufacturing, the financial services sector and the emerging small to medium businesses enterprises.

Land Reform and Agriculture

Land reform programme has seen over 500 000 households becoming proud owners of arable farmland and among them, an average of 145 000 have consistently grown tobacco, earning the country close to US$1 billion annually.

Ever-since the introduction of Government assisted programme such as Command Agriculture and Presidential inputs schemes, the country is becoming slowly food sufficient, producing close to two million tonnes of cereals, in the process, serving millions of foreign currency.  Government has also announced an ambitious plan to increase tobacco production from the average of 185 million kg to 300 million kg annually as a way to grow the sector that has become one of the largest employers along the tobacco value chain. 

This year, the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) chief executive  Dr Andrew Matibiri, has said production “could reach 200 million kgs due to the positive rainfalls as the sector continues to grow.”

The sector has effectively bounced back from the disruptions caused by saboteurs following the land reform programme as large scale white former farmers resisted the programme.

“The structure of the industry has been completely upturned, in a way that benefits the majority of indigenous Zimbabweans. I can assure you all Zimbabweans are in one or the other connected to farming and are happy. This is the priceless reward of independence,” noted Mr Thomas Chasara, a farmer based in Norton.

Prior to the land reform programme, 1 500 large-scale tobacco farmers out of about 4 500 (predominantly white farmers) produced 97 percent of tobacco in 2000, but the number of indigenous smallholder farmers has risen to 140 000, producing around 70 percent of the crop.

Zimbabwe has three auction floors, all in Harare, namely the Tobacco Sales Floor Ltd (TSF), the Boka Tobacco Floor and the Millennium Tobacco Floors. The late Roger Boka was the first to challenge the dominance of whites in the lucrative tobacco sector.

Pioneers of black economic empowerment 

Mr Boka crossed paths with the white men over racial issues and it probably explains the man’s success among leading pioneers of black entrepreneurs in the financial services sector and other areas.

The final chapter of these encounters was reportedly when he was  dismissed from BP & Shell; it was then that he realised he could not work for a white-owned company and to be his own boss. He used a lump sum from his retrenchment as his start-up capital for his first home cleaning oils business, which was to be followed by several other businesses in different sectors.

These included a watch assembly company, Boka Cosmetics, Boka Enterprises, Boka Investments, Boka Book Sales, Boka Tobacco Floors, United Merchant Bank and several gold mines

Mr Boka was a man of many pioneer ventures, which opened pathways for other aspiring and ambitious blacks to follow. He was the first black Zimbabwean to own a private plane, and a prestigious Rolls Royce.

Financial services sector

In 1994, Mr Boka was the first Zimbabwean to obtain a tobacco merchant’s license, once a domain of the white folk. Boka’s United Merchant Bank was one of the first black owned banks to get a banking license. After his UMB there was to be a litany of black owned banks like Universal Merchant Bank, Trust Bank, Barbican Bank, Genesis Investment Bank, CFX, Interfin, Renaissance and Time Bank. It goes without saying that as Zimbabwe celebrates 41 years of self-rule tomorrow, credit be given to one of the forerunners of black empowerment, entrepreneurship and economic freedom; Boka and many other indigenous blacks who joined him in the black economic empowerment crusade.

Affirmative Action Group (AAG) founding member and former president Dr Philip Chiyangwa, said Mr Boka played a pivotal role in advancing entrepreneurship among the black people.

Dr Chiyangwa

He said the final assault on advancing the participation in the mainstream economy was led by him and the late Mr Boka, the later even spending own money to spread the message in the media.

Dr Chiyangwa said his generation of economic freedom fighters took the struggle to the next level with the express authority of the Zanu PF Government, which had to gain such rights.

He said the Zanu PF Government gave encouragement and full support to advance the cause for economic empowerment, which led to transformation of Zimbabwe’s economic landscape.

“The most successful ones being Mr Boka and Mr Peter Pamire. Others who came later benefitted under the indigenisation programme. Mr Boka played a huge role, he had to spend own money to spread the message,” he said. 

“The final assault in the quest for empowerment of blacks was fronted by Chiyangwa and Mr Boka. Mr Boka had to spend his own money on media messages,” he said.

Mr Boka had long set the tone and demonstrated that it was possible to economically challenge the white businessmen.

Mining sector 

The Government’s black economic empowerment regulations have seen many people – the youths, women and war veterans, venturing into the lucrative mining sector. The indigenous people, though inhibited by lack of finance, have played majors players in the extraction of such minerals as gold and chrome.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, believes the Zimbabwe Miners Federation and the National Gold Buyers Association (NGBA) are key “in achieving the 100 tonne bullion-target a year by 2023”. 

“I am pleased that (the NGBA) has braced itself for this noble cause because leakages are threatening gold deliveries, so I welcome this as a big achievement,” Minister Chitando said on Thursday while addressing members. 

NGBA chairman, Mr Pedzai Scott Sakupwanya, also believes their thrust was to ensure fair trade and that Zimbabweans benefits from vast mineral resources. 

“Our thrust is to ensure the country’s interests are protected in the trading of the yellow metal. I am honoured to have been elected as the founding NGBA chairman and whose mandate is to help government to raise bullion deliveries through solid and recognisable structures that can help in the monitoring and coordination of licensed players or agents’ activities as well as miners under ZMF’s umbrella,” Mr Sakupwanya who owns Better Brands Jewellery said.

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