'Zim laws flexible'

HARARE - Deputy Finance minister Terrence Mukupe says the country’s economic policies and regulations are not cast in stone and can be changed to suit investor expectations.

The seasoned banker said the recent pronouncements on the indigenisation policy were enough evidence that Zimbabwe is open to business and willing to engage with both local and foreign investors.

“We have shown intention to amend the Indigenisation Act and the ministry of Justice is now working on the policy to give it clarity.

“They will decide the best way to deal with the policy,” he said at an economic investment policy conference in Harare yesterday.

Mukupe added that the country will soon amend the Companies Act, which was established in the 1950s, in line with international modern trends.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government recently overhauled its indigenisation policy as part of strategies to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country.

The controversial policy was enacted in 2008 to empower the historically disadvantaged indigenous Zimbabweans, but is largely blamed for pushing foreign investors away.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said the amendment will see the economy open up to investors.

“Accordingly, the proposed amendments will confine the 51/49 indigenisation threshold to only two minerals, namely diamonds and platinum, in the extractive sector, the 51/49 threshold will not apply to the rest of the extractive sector, nor will it apply to the other sectors of the economy, which will be open to any investor regardless of nationality,” he said in his 2018 budget statement.

As the country seeks to attract both local and foreign investments, Chinamasa said existing and potential investors should be fully guided by the amendments.

He added that the reserved sector was only for Zimbabwean citizens.

Conditions subject to approval will include the ability of the business to create employment, availability of opportunity for the transfer of skills and technology for the benefit of local people, promotion of the creation of sustainable value chains as well as the ability of the business to meet the prescribed social and economic objectives.

Those already in the reserved sector, except gold panning, will be required to register and comply with the laws.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) commended the move by government to simplify the country’s indigenisation policy as a step in the right direction for the economy.

“They presented their 2018 budget on 7 December and that budget stresses that the government’s intention to re-impose budget discipline, reform and open the economy and engage with the broader international community,” IMF spokesperson William Murray said.

“In this regard, the clarification and simplification of what’s called the indigenisation policy is a step in the right direction,” he added.