78 percent disapprove of indigenisation

HARARE - Since it was launched over two years ago, Zimbabwe’s drive to force foreign businesses to give 51 percent of their shareholding to locals has never been especially popular with the Zimbabwean public.

Just 19 percent approve of the indigenisation law, according to the latest opinion poll released earlier this month, while 78 percent disapprove.

The latest poll by the Mass Public Opinion Institute — a Zimbabwean organisation that conducted the fieldwork for the poll commissioned by Afrobarometer — showed the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act has dismally failed to gain traction.

The survey of about 2 400 Zimbabweans of voting age, conducted from July 16-30, 2012 and released on October 10, shows 3 percent refused to express a party preference.

A sample of 2 400 was selected using a stratified, multistage, area design and respondents were asked whether indigenising the economy by taking over foreign-owned companies was the most effective way of empowering all Zimbabweans or creating jobs would be a more effective way of empowerment than taking over ownership of business.

“The common view held by the majority of respondents (78 percent) is that creating jobs is a far effective way of empowering all Zimbabweans than taking over ownership of businesses (19 percent),” the survey results say.

“This view was widely shared by Zimbabweans in all the 10 provinces, across the political divide, age and educational groups.”

The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment regulations — Statutory Instrument 21, gazetted by Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere in 2010, require foreign companies to localise or indigenise “51 percent of their shares or interests therein” within five years in all business sectors. The drive targeted foreign mines first, and has now moved to the banking sector.

The fickle nature of the electorate in supporting President Robert Mugabe’s indigenisation drive could exasperate the Zanu PF leader who was hoping to use the empowerment scheme to shore up support for his party ahead of anticipated polls next year.

Critics say the disadvantaged people of Zimbabwe have not benefitted from the new law simply because only the elite will be able to invest in shares and there are fears it seriously threatens foreign investment. - Gift Phiri

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