Govt cracks widen as PM dismisses indigenisation plans
By Alex Bell
03 July 2012
The already gaping cracks in Zimbabwe’s unity government have been further
widened this week, after the Prime Minister publicly dismissed the ZANU PF
led indiginisation plans for banks and other key sectors.
The Indigenisation Ministry, led by ZANU PF’s Saviour Kasukuwere, last
Friday announced that foreign owned firms across different sectors in the
country must submit to the controversial empowerment plans within the next
year. This includes banks, tourism groups and private educational
institutions like crèches, primary and secondary schools and institutions of
But Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday dismissed this notice,
saying in a statement that “there is no such government position because no
such issue has been discussed and agreed upon by Cabinet.”
“Government has not sanctioned the Minister’s actions that are a threat to
investment in the country. The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act
does not empower the Minister to act and to project an image of a voracious
government keen to compulsorily grab almost all institutions and companies
in the country,” the statement from Tsvangirai’s office said.
The statement continued: “We reiterate the position that the Prime Minister
of Zimbabwe has executive powers and the Constitution of Zimbabwe bestows
him with the authority to oversee and supervise ‘policy formulation and
implementation’. The government forum that deals with implementation of
government policy is the Council of Ministers, which has not discussed or
approved the purported government position captured in the public notice.”
The statement warned that anyone who ‘grabbed’ the assets of the foreign
owned groups listed in the Indigenisation Ministry’s notice, “would be doing
so unlawfully and without the mandate of the Inclusive Government.”
The indigenisation laws require foreign owned firms in the country to hand
over 51% of their shareholding to indigenous Zimbabweans, and so far the
campaign has hit the mines industry the hardest. International mining houses
like Impala Platinum have already submitted to the so-called empowerment
campaign, signing over a 51% share handover deal.
The laws have strained relations in the fragile unity government, with the
MDC-T warning that the campaign will damage Zimbabwe’s investment future and
only benefit those in ZANU PF.
Critics have agreed that the campaign has little to do with real empowerment
and all to do with securing ZANU PF’s hold on the country, especially with a
crucial election expected in the coming months.
Economist Masimba Kuchera told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that the
indigenisation drive is an election “trump card” for ZANU PF.
“The country is in full electioneering mode and the best for some people in
ZANU PF is to say they will deliver indigenisation. So this has serious
political under tones,” Kuchera explained.
He also said that there are other options, in terms of indigenisation
policies, which would be more beneficial for ordinary Zimbabweans, saying
that the current plans have little to do with real empowerment. He
criticised the current indigenisation drive for assuming that people will
have the money and know-how to become a majority owner of foreign owned
companies, when for many Zimbabweans this is not the case.
“There needs to be real education and realistic empowerment plans…I agree
that it should be a non partisan and depoliticised process for it to be
successful,” Kuchera said.