Youth Development, Indigenization and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere says Zimbabwe’s controversial black empowerment law is not meant to hurt whites but to close the wealth gap between white and black people.
Speaking at an event to officially open a Youth Empowerment and Investment seminar in Masvingo Thursday, Kasukuwere said the focus of indigenization is to ensure that blacks and whites attain the same level of economic potential.
Kasukuwere said he does not hate whites but that indigenization would bring economic balance, so that Zimbabweans might even see whites working for blacks in the country.
He noted that he hopes personally to employ a white cook or gardener as his forefathers served as cooks and gardeners for whites.
“We are not against them because they are white, we only want to become what they were, we are only closing the gap,” said Kasukuwere.
Under the country's Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act, any white or foreign-owned company must transfer a 51 percent of its ownership to blacks or in the language of the law, any person who before Zimbabwe’s Independence Day was disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on the grounds of his or her race.
The minister acknowledged that the indigenization process has been marred by mistakes, adding that mistakes will continue to be made as the country moves to empower more black Zimbabweans.
The minister also took a swipe at Finance Minister Tendai Biti for what he called “literally imposing internal sanctions on the country's youths by failing to release money meant for youth programs from the treasury.”
Kasukuwere said that while such moves are an obstacle to indigenization, the black economic empowerment programme would continue.
Biti and the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have openly criticized the indigenization and empowerment policy, saying it only enriches the elite and discourages foreign direct investment needed to grow the economy.
The minister also implored youths who have benefited from loans provided by his ministry to pay the loans back.
Addressing the same gathering, Masvingo Governor and Resident Minister, Titus Maluleke, also acknowledged that indigenization would continue to be plagued by problems, but he blamed this on what he called “agents who ill -advise the youth that indigenization is only a political gimmick”.
He said there are many other Zanu PF programes that cannot be implemented due to lack of funds.
The three-day Youth Empowerment and Investment Seminar, organized by the Youth Initiators Association of Zimbabwe, had approximately 30 attendants.