Zimbabweans decry white economic domination
Mugabe names 'minister of indigenisation'
September 8, 1996
Web posted at: 11:35 p.m. EDT (0335 GMT)
HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- An extreme
disparity in wealth is starting to emerge
as a hot political issue in Zimbabwe.
Almost half of Zimbabwe's population is
unemployed, and those who have a job make
an estimated average of $64 per month. And
of the country's total population of 11
million, the white minority of 150,000
controls more than 90 percent of the
wealth, experts said.
The overall picture wasn't a whole lot
different in 1979, the last year the
country was a colony of Great Britain and
was known as Rhodesia.
Back then, blacks were segregated into
dilapidated and unsanitary townships. Now,
16 years after waging a bitter war for
freedom, they continue to occupy the same
neighborhoods, known as "high density
suburbs," living in ramshackle houses
surrounded by raw sewage and trash-strewn
But pressure is building for change. Some
black activists say that if the problem
isn't solved, the country can expect the
"There could be another Rwanda at any time,
given the economic volatility," said Philip
Chiyangwa of the Affirmative Action Group.
Zimbabwean activists seek government help
They're lobbying the government to
implement a nationwide affirmative action
program that would create business
opportunities for native black Zimbabweans.
In a country where blacks and whites have
coexisted peacefully since the war against
white minority rule in the early 1970s, it
has become an increasingly pressing issue.
Some whites argue that they are also
Zimbabweans, and have worked hard for that
"They're trying to say that the black
Zimbabwean is downtrodden, hasn't got fair
advantages. What they're actually saying is
they want unfair advantages for Black
Zimbabweans," said a woman on a Harare
President promotes business partnerships
President Robert Mugabe recently appointed
a "minister of indigenisation" who says
that, for the time being, he's simply
encouraging white-owned businesses in the
private sector to enter partnerships with
"We want indigenous people to play a more
active role in the economy," said Cephas
Msipa, Zimbabwe minister of state.
The minister said the government will be
earmarking some public sector industries to
be sold to blacks. But he concedes real
parity can only be realized with black
inclusion in the private sector.
The program has its skeptics. "It cannot
move at the right pace simply because, at
the end of the day, there simply are so
many people wanting business opportunities,
and there's relatively little opportunity
to put that into practice," said Roy Lander
of Anglo American Corporation.
Someday, somehow, Zimbabweans must confront
their yawning disparities. "If you cannot
have an answer when you go knocking on the
door, you smash it down and look what's
inside. And that's what's going to happen."
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