No Indigenisation Act amendments: Nhema

HARARE - Indegenisation minister Francis Nhema insists that there will be no amendments to the Empowerment Act until deliberations are completed.

He told Parliament’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment portfolio committee yesterday that amendments to the policy — compelling foreigners to cede 51 percent shareholding to locals — will only be entertained when Cabinet presents changes before the House of Assembly.

“Handina kumbotaura kuti ndiri kuda kubata bata mutemo wedu. Handisati ndambotaura kudaro. Handina kumbodaro. Kana tazofunga kuti pane zvinoda kuitwa zvinotaurwa zvouya kudare reParamende, asi pari zvino hatisati tasvika. (I didn’t say I wanted to amend the Indigenisation law. I have never said that. When we think there are amendments to be done we will deliberate and present the issues to Parliament, but for the time being we have not reached such a stage),” Nhema said.

This comes on the back of media reports that government plans to amend the empowerment policy, to shift from a one-size-fits-all indigenisation to a sector-specific one.

Earlier on, President Robert Mugabe had ruled out 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.

Following the pronouncements, there has been calls for government to amend the Indigenisation Act to incorporate the suggested amendments.

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.

Australia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Matthew Neuhaus said: “Certainly, Indigenisation laws have been confusing, and the implication of the 51 percent ownership does not inspire confidence in investors. They want to know that their investments are safe and that they get what theyput in.”

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 would put an end to speculation surrounding the law.

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,” he said.

He added that there would  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.

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