Battle over Zimbabwe indigenisation law ends

Harare – The long drawn-out struggle within Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party over implementation of the country’s controversial “indigenisation” law appears to be over.

By Peta Thornycroft
Patrick Zhuwao, President Robert Mugabe’s nephew, who is minister in charge of indigenisation, says he recently “misinterpreted” aspects of the 2008 law. He previously set a deadline of April 1 for foreign companies to deposit plans with the government for achieving 51% black shareholding.

He warned that if they missed the deadline he would cancel their operating licences, and also warned that foreign banks missing the deadline risked confiscation of their funds. But Mugabe himself stepped in recently and contradicted Zhuwao, issuing a new “directive” on the much-amended indigenisation law.

“It is … fit and proper that I provide clarification on this very vital national policy,” he said.

Zhuwao responded at a press conference last Friday: “As I take direction, it’s quite possible that I can misinterpret certain things and I must be able to listen to my boss when my boss explains what I have misinterpreted.”

While no one appears sure what the indigenisation law entails, most analysts believe the 51% threshold will now be calculated by taking into account each foreign company’s wages, taxation, community schemes and procurement programmes and not just ownership. And indigenisation will no longer apply to existing businesses in the natural resources sector. – ANA

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