Zim to extend indigenisation deadlines

HARARE - Zimbabwe says it will extend indigenisation compliance deadlines for “serious investors”.

Empowerment minister Francis Nhema said government “is looking for sincere investors”.

“If investors want to bring their knowledge for the benefit of the country, then government is flexible to negotiate on a model for compliance within a specified period in line with the 51 percent local ownership thrust,” he told a Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition forum on Monday.

Commenting on reports that authorities were remodelling the Empowerment Act, Nhema said: “Government will not change the indigenisation law. There is a difference between reviewing a law and agreeing on a period for compliance with the law.”

Reports say Zimbabwe is changing the implementation of the empowerment policy — compelling foreigners to cede 51 shareholding to locals — from a one-size-fits-all approach to a sector-specific one.

Recently, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa told Parliament that  Cabinet had ordered Nhema to craft a paper clarifying government’s position on the indigenisation policy.

He said the document will put an end to speculation surrounding the law.

This comes on the back of President Robert Mugabe’s recent ruling out of the blanket indigenisation approach, saying only companies utilising the country’s natural resources will be required to immediately turn over majority stakes to indigenous Zimbabweans.

Chinamasa said: “Cabinet directed the minister of Youth Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment to take up this issue with a view to aligning the law to the policy pronouncements”.

“He has been asked to start aligning and clarifying that position at the Politburo. Minister Nhema has been charged with that responsibility,” he said during a question and answer session.

Chinamasa said there will be 100 percent ownership of resources, but hastened to say ownership and control are different things.

“Please do not confuse ownership with control. I have said all our struggles have been to assert our control over resources and that control is 100 percent,” the former Justice minister said.

“What we now do with exploitation of that is a matter of policy. How we exploit our land…and our minerals which are depleting… is now going to be a policy issue,” he said.

“What is important is that we want a win-win solution, relationship and arrangements…We are also saying that as they come to make money, using our assets, we also want to reap the benefits of the exploitation of those assets,” said Chinamasa.

Zimbabwe is desperately trying to attract Foreign Direct Investment and access international lines of credit.

Analysts have expressed mixed feelings over government’s rethink on the controversial policy.

While some commend the new flexible approach, others feel government should scrap the law.

Analysts say if government cast in stone its vocal promises about making the empowerment law flexible, more investors will feel protected and invest in the country.

Former Economic Planning and Investment Promotion minister Tapiwa Mashakada has said the government’s policy rethink must be effected through legislative amendments, not vocal assurances.

Netherlands ambassador to Zimbabwe Gera Sneller has also said Dutch investors were ready to come into the country provided government clarifies policies that protect investor interests.

“Investors should have assurance that the same laws valid today will be valid tomorrow and that the same conditions should be applicable across sectors,” she said. — Business Live


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