Indigenisation law still unclear
NEARLY nine years after it was first enacted into law, Zimbabwe’s indigenisation law is no clearer than when it was first adopted by the country’s Parliament.
On Tuesday last week, the law took yet another dizzying twist after President Robert Mugabe intervened following bickering between his ministers on its interpretation.
Through his intervention, banks shall maintain their current shareholding while foreign-owned mines would be allowed to keep their current ownership structures, as government seeks to attract foreign investment.
Resources firms would have to keep 75 percent of their earnings in the country.
His referee-like entry into the latest confusion around the indigenisation law was fuelled by the public spat between two of his Cabinet ministers.
Patrick Chinamasa, the head of the Ex-Chequer has faced criticism from the garrulous Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister, Patrick Zhuwao, who is President Mugabe’s nephew.
Zhuwao has sharply criticised other ministers for failing to support his indigenisation campaign.
But President Mugabe conceded last week that the “conflicting position” from his ministers was hurting the economy.
To remedy this, he said it was therefore fit and proper to give clarity on this very vital national policy, for the guidance of government ministries, the business community and current and would-be foreign investors.
“This [conflicting position] has caused confusion among Zimbabweans, the business community, current and potential investors, thereby undermining market confidence,” he said.
It had just been two weeks since Zhuwao had promised to descend heavily on companies that failed to indigenise by March 31, 2016, a deadline he had imposed for submission of empowerment plans.
“It’s either you comply or you close shop,” Zhuwao declared.
So President Mugabe’s position was a blow to the ambitious minister.
But will this mark the end for Zhuwao? Has President Mugabe finally put to rest the disquiet around the empowerment law?
There are no straight answers to both questions. It is, however, worth noting that the war of attrition between Chinamasa and Zhuwao had been ongoing for months.
The opposition, Movement for Democratic Change led by Welshman Ncube summed it up best when it said the ZANU-PF lieutenants were locked in a game of “Russian roulette” over the economy.
Chinamasa, however, represented all things progressive; he was willing to do whatever it takes to get the economy ticking again and have Zimbabwe re-admitted into the international community.
Zhuwao stood as the vanguard of the revolution, viewing economic emancipation as the last frontier in the revolution.
Zhuwao may be down for now, but he is definitely not out.
It is only just a matter of time before he comes back up again.
With elections set for 2018, it appears Zhuwao may not have to wait for too long on the sidewalks.
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