Terrorising Masiyiwa, embracing Dangote

LONDON - It has dawned on Zanu PF that its so-called resource nationalism has failed to produce expected results.

Zanu PF had anticipated that over time its agrarian revolution would vivify Zimbabwe’s moribund economy. However, this has not happened or at least at the scale that it had anticipated.

Fifteen years on, we have people called “new farmers” who received government inputs, lumped the debt on the taxpayer and yet have failed to produce much. One of the vice-presidents called them an embarrassment.

Nationalising resources is one thing, production quite another.

It is a result of this shame that Zanu PF has now realised the importance of foreign direct investment (FDI) and is now relaxing the indigenisation laws, the latter a product of the same asinine radicalism.

The so-called mega-deals signed with China attest to the embarrassment over resource acquisition that has not been matched by productivity.

It is within the same context that Zanu PF officials were falling over each other in welcoming Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote last week.

Government business seemed to come to a standstill as every minister sought to show a smile and shake hands with the billionaire.

It is not often that a potential investor has audience with the president of a country.

But these are certainly desperate times for Zanu PF which promised, through its electoral blueprint ZimAsset, that it would turn around the economy and create more than two million jobs before 2018.

Dangote, whose net worth is estimated at about $18,6 billion, is seen as a knight in shining armour who could help Zanu PF realise its rather outlandish promises.

We cannot, of course, pooh-pooh Zanu PF’s endeavours in attracting FDI — after shouting ourselves hoarse about it — without sounding self-contradictory.

But amid all the fawning over Dangote, one could not help but think of Strive Masiyiwa.

One cannot escape the fact that while embarrassingly seeking to ingratiate themselves with Africa’s richest man, Zanu PF hounded Zimbabwe’s most enterprising son out of the country.

Masiyiwa’s story is well-documented, from the time Zanu PF placed all sorts of obstacles in his way to establishing Zimbabwe’s most successful telecommunications enterprise.

In March 2000, Masiyiwa, facing persecution, left Zimbabwe, never to return. He relocated to South Africa, where he established the Econet Wireless Group, a new and separate venture to the listed Zimbabwean entity.

Today, he runs or has partnered to operate Econet Wireless International, Econet Wireless Global, Mascom Wireless Botswana, Econet Wireless Nigeria (now Airtel Nigeria), Econet Satellite Services, Lesotho Telecom, Econet Wireless Burundi, Rwanda Telecom, Econet Wireless South Africa, Solarway, and Transaction Processing Systems (TPS).

He is also engaged in numerous humanitarian and charity activities. Masiyiwa is named on Forbes Magazine’s list for 2015 as one of 10 most influential men in Africa.

Unlike some of the Zimbabwean businessmen, given to braggadocio, showing off new posh car after another, Masiyiwa is a businessman of substance and quiet chutzpah.

Today, we pin some of our hopes on a Nigerian businessman as our potential saviour. Yet we have banished our most resourceful son to foreign lands.

To be as successful as he is, Dangote would have felt safe in his country, and perhaps, received support from his own government. Masiyiwa did not and does not.

Yet he could be diversifying and investing more in his home country if he had not been made to feel insecure and non-indigenous by a government that preaches indigenisation and resource nationalism.

Masiyiwa is a phenomenal human resource terrorised out of his own country. Resource nationalism has failed to “nationalise” its most enterprising human resource.

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