THE Land Reform Programme as a whole has been met with stiff and calculated resistance by those against its empowerment imperatives.
The usual capital interests call for the observation of property rights to safeguard their monopoly, while snuffing out any attempt to disturb this status quo by any quota.
While this is nothing new, and in all honesty, should be expected given the economic benefits accruing from owning either land, conservancies or mines over time and the knowledge of the material gains that can be unlocked from these natural resources.
The tide of empowerment championed by President Mugabe seeks to correct the foregoing anomaly, where resources are concentrated in a few white hands, which is a clear reminder of the unjust colonial system in independent Zimbabwe. The clarion call to correct these imbalances has been the prime pre-occupation of President Mugabe through the Land Reform Programme and the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Programme.
Never mind the methodology, it is the end that justifies the means, all disagreements are just side shows to blur the ultimate goal, empowerment.
Surely, no sacrifice in implementing empowerment programmes would ever surpass the sacrifice already made during the liberation war, the blood spilt, indeed limbs lost, nothing.
Thus, if the ultimate sacrifice was made already, the road to empowerment should be a red carpet, alas, not in Zimbabwe, impediments have been put to log-jam the roller coaster wheels of the inevitable empowerment of the ordinary man and woman.
Therein lies the problem. The IEEP and the LRP should benefit any Zimbabwean rich and poor alike, but particularly the poor. The resonance of these robust policies has not only been felt and noticed by Zimbabweans only, but foreigners as well.
Susan Booysen's Freedom House 2012 survey pointed out that more Zimbabweans have identified with these two policies in making electoral decisions to support Zanu-PF. The report says that "the survey results clearly show that Zanu-PF has crafted for itself a number of effective election and party choice platforms as seen in the land reform, indigenisation, and foreign interference discourse."
The politics of this survey aside, the bottom line is, a good thing remains a good thing, hate it or like it, Zimbabweans want empowerment. Ultimately, the programme forges ahead whether one's political party is against it, which explains why some got left out of national programmes like the LRP as they pandered to the political card.
The IEEP is underway, sane locals should involve themselves, after all, it is you who gets empowered, not Zanu-PF.
The party is just there to ensure you get empowered.
The Save Valley Conservancy saga makes sad reading to some of us who feel strongly about the second phase of the LRP, the Wild Life Based Land Reform Programme. The empowerment juggernaut is surely rolling, but what are Zimbabweans, ordinary ones, doing to ensure that we harness the opportunities availed by this lucrative industry, wildlife conservancy. Wildlife and national monuments such as the 7th Wonder of the World, the mighty Victoria Falls, are the major draw cards for tourists in Zimbabwe.
Consequently, tourism contributed at least nine percent to the country's Gross Domestic Product between January and October 2011.
Tourism and Hospitality Minister, Cde Walter Mzembi, said that by 2015 we should be contributing 15 percent to GDP, adding that the tourism sector in Zimbabwe was the second fastest growing in terms of contribution to GDP after China.
There is need to balance the two competing issues of national interest empowerment and tourism. Empowerment only makes sense if it benefits the disempowered, the moment it benefits the already empowered, it seizes to be empowerment but rather self-enrichment.
President Mugabe is a symbol of empowerment, whose legacy should be safeguarded through the correct implementation of the programme to benefit the masses, who were disempowered by colonialism. Thus, the question is not whether or not the two issues are contradictory, indeed, they are complementary.
The issuing of the lease agreements to the new partners, while laudable, the fact that some of the beneficiaries have, to their credit, acknowledged that they have benefited from other empowerment programmes, makes them morally ineligible to continue benefitting yet there are others who are yet to benefit from any programme. The idea is to empower the masses, not individuals.
On the other hand, those selected to be partners in the conservancies should not decimate the wildlife, but should learn the ropes from their erstwhile partners to ensure that tourists continue to pour into the country. The contribution of tourism to the GDP, as aforementioned, can not be over-emphasised. It is made all the more important given the upcoming UNWTO General Assembly to be co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Tourism itself is about image building and perception management. Thus, while the Wildlife Based Land Reform Programme is inevitable and necessary, its implementation should benefit the disempowered to give meaning to it, and indeed its major proponent, President Mugabe.Ã‚Â
It is the duty of every Zimbabwean to rally behind empowerment, but with due regard to the preservation of our fast growing tourism sector.