Decolonization, class struggles and economic empowerment in post-colonial states: an appraisal of Zimbabwe's post independence indigenization project in the mining sector.
This study is an exposition of Zimbabwe’s post-independence indigenization and economic empowerment policy, with a specific focus on how the policy unfolded in the country’s mining sector. The indigenization policy was adopted as a conscious strategy towards overcoming Zimbabwe’s historical legacy of settler colonialism. The colonial government’s systematic racial discrimination and policy of separate development meant that the post-colonial government inherited a society characterized by gross economic and social inequalities along racial lines. In this, black citizens played a marginal role in the country’s economy and were scarcely represented across the main sectors, particularly in the minerals industry. Hence the government’s insistence that the indigenous population, defined as those and the descendants of those who experienced systematic discrimination before independence in 1980, control at least 51 percent of the major economic enterprises across all sectors of the economy. As such, through the lenses of state power, class relations and Zimbabwe’s position in the world-system, this study problematized the conceptualization and the implementation of the policy as it unfolded in the country’s mining sector. It sought to identify the factors that determined the process and the outcomes of the indigenization policy in the said sector. The study used a qualitative methodological approach. Data was gathered through in-depth interviews and email correspondence with government officials, private sector players, academics, mineworkers, activists and journalists. Purposive sampling was used to identify and reach key participants. Documentary and online material including government reports, videos, social media statements from verified accounts of government officials and scholars were also key sources of data.The findings of the study demonstrate that the indigenization policy in the mining sector was, by and large, unsuccessful. The large-scale mining sector is still dominated by an oligopoly of a few powerful foreign-owned companies. Numerous attempts at indigenous takeover (dominated by politicians) of foreign-owned mining failed because of lack of capital. Out of the 61 Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOTs) established as vehicles through which rural peasant communities could gain 10% share ownership in mining companies, only one Trust actually had shares transferred to it. Further, only one mining company transferred shares to the workers under the Employee Share Ownership Trust (ESOT) scheme. The artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector which comprises predominantly indigenous players has been thoroughly disempowered and disenfranchised by the state. The study cites the weak state, and Zimbabwe’s position in the world-system as a peripheral player among some of the major determinants of these outcomes. An absent indigenous bourgeoisie and the disorganized working class, ASM players and peasant communities immobilized by state repression meant that the politicians dominated the indigenization policy. Key words: Indigenization, Empowerment, Decolonization, Class, Zimbabwe