For anti-colonial rhetoric in Zimbabwe read xenophobia and economic illiteracy
Thursday, September 23, 2010
It appears that Robert Mugabe is not the only politician in Zimbabwe who is willing to use ‘anti-colonialist’ rhetoric to justify their ruinous policies. Saviour Kasukuwere - who holds the somewhat Orwellian post of “Indigenization Minister”- has justified Zanu PF’s latest efforts to control foreign owned business ventures as part of a “struggle for freedom”. The perception that foreign owners are in some way “plundering” wealth at the expense Zimbabwean people is economically illiterate and only serves the interests of those politicians that stand to gain as a result of forced nationalisation.
In reality, as amply demonstrated by Zimbabwe’s state-owned diamond industry, government control of the private sector has led to whole scale plunder of assets. This latest push to deter foreign investment will almost certainly exacerbate this predicament by getting rid of productive sectors. As Roger Bate has recently noted in the Wall Street Journal, it was precisely such policies that led to Zimbabwe’s initial economic collapse.
Furthermore, the policy of expropriating capital from foreign owned businesses bears more resemblance to racist xenophobic idealism than it does to sound economic planning. Elsewhere in Africa, such as in Botswana, Rwanda and Mauritius, enormous benefits have ensued from foreign investment and expertise creating jobs, providing services and ultimately contributing to fiscal revenues. Any government that is truly concerned about the material progress and economic welfare of its citizens should be looking to welcome investors with open arms.
Sadly, in the case of Zimbabwe, politicians remain eager to further their own ends by evoking populist anti-colonial rhetoric. It is time that the world acknowledged that such vocabulary is used to justify policies that should be viewed by the international community with contempt for the harm they will cause to their people.