Harare – Zimbabwe’s new Indigenisation Minister Christopher Mushowe says foreign investors are “very lucky” to get 49 percent shares in businesses they have set up, the Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday.
In his first comments on President Robert Mugabe’s indigenisation policy since his appointment earlier this month, Mushowe said: “In fact 49 percent is the maximum for foreign shareholding and 51 percent is the minimum or indigenous holding.”
Under the laws, whites and foreigners are obliged to arrange for locals to take over 51 percent of large companies they own.
Critics say the regulations, which came into effect in 2010, scare away foreign investment.
“So it’s not cast in concrete that it’s 49 percent, it can be one percent because it is the maximum and 51 percent can be 99 percent because it’s the minimum,” the indigenisation minister reportedly said.
Mushowe’s comments appeared to be in direct response to hints from new Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa earlier this week that the authorities would “relax” indigenisation laws.
Would-be investors have previously criticised the government for sending out conflicting signals on indigenisation.
Mushowe replaced former indigenisation minister Francis Nhema who was sacked as part of Mugabe’s ongoing purge of ruling Zanu-PF party officials linked to Joice Mujuru, Zimbabwe’s first ever female vice president, who was sacked for allegedly trying to oust the president.
She and her allies deny the charge.