When the Affirmative Action Group was formed in 1994, there was a lot of acrimony about the new organisation. Several questions were raised about why it had been formed when there was already an organisation representing indigenous business people, the Indigenous Business Development Centre (IBDC).
Besides, it seemed very radical. It wanted empowerment of the blacks, and not just indigenous Zimbabweans. Its leaders, Phillip Chiyangwa and the late Peter Pamire, also became too close to the ZANU-PF leadership and were recruited into the party’s fund raising activities.
One reader even wrote to a local newspaper: “They are a baby of the ruling party who in the name of affirmative action are greedily building empires at the expense of the masses they purport to stand for.”
Could this be true? Chiyangwa, the only visible AAG member after the death of Pamire, left the organisation in March saying it was time to quit because the AAG could stand on its own.
But Chiyangwa was no longer an aspiring businessman failing to meet the wages of his workers. He was a big business person spearheading the Native Africa Investment Group which bought key companies like the Zimbabwe Engineering Company (ZECO) and the G and D group of companies and was heavily invested in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
But more interesting, for a person who had been preaching the anti-white gospel during his AAG presidency, he made a sudden about turn. He appointed a number of whites on the boards of some of his companies.
This makes one wonder whether his AAG stance was genuine, or it was just a way of attracting attention to himself and thus getting the exposure that makes it easier to get finance from the banks that he had been hammering at left, right and centre.