'Tourism players must comply with indigenisation law'

HARARE - Outgoing Tourism minister Walter Mzembi has warned foreigners who want to venture into the tourism sector to be prepared to comply with Zimbabwe’s indigenisation laws.

“I want to appeal to our brothers and sisters in here that when you introduce projects don’t waylay projects through imaginary costing’s and inflationary pricing.

“We want you to participate, that is what our trusted party (Zanu PF) stands for to indigenise, empower and create employment, but we must be reasonable to each other for these kinds of projects to take off”, Mzembi  told a signing ceremony for the proposed Hilton Hotel last week.

The law compels all foreign-owned companies operating in Zimbabwe to cede a controlling 51 percent shareholding to locals.

He added that compliance was the only way out as it gave locals “the opportunity they had been waiting for.”

Mzembi called for a review of local government by-laws to meet international best practices, saying the current ones were hindering development.

“We constrain projects because of some laws we inherited, even as far back as Rhodesia.

“We have to attune our civil servants to a new thinking. The issue of multi-licensing is not on.

“Even the local authorities themselves, for example when you want to start your own bottle store business you have to go through 15 licences just to make people drunk,” said Mzembi.

He said the Tourism ministry was working towards extending statutory instrument (SI) 124 of 2011 and 199 of 2012 which enables players in the tourism sector to import capital goods duty-free.

“I highlight two statutory instruments that have expired and we will need to make sure that we push them further in the life of the new Zanu PF government.

“There were temporary but we are now advocating for the extension of these two SIs in the next five years to allow for these kinds of projects to take off,” said Mzembi.

President Robert Mugabe has of late intensified pressure on foreign-owned companies to comply with the
empowerment policy despite experts warning that the move could be disastrous to economy.

“The indigenisation and empowerment drive will continue unabated in order to ensure that indigenous Zimbabweans enjoy a larger share of the country’s resources,” Mugabe told a Defence Forces day gathering last month.

“Now that the people of Zimbabwe have given us a resounding mandate in the governance of the country we will do everything in our power to ensure our objective of total indigenisation, empowerment, development and employment is realised.”

Former Finance minister Tendai Biti in his budget projected Zimbabwe’s tourism sector to grow by about four percent this year.

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