Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Harare policy confusion, squabbles deepen

Harare policy confusion, squabbles deepen

by Edward Jones     Friday 11 March 2011

HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said yesterday the cabinet had not 
yet decided the minimum local ownership levels for foreign companies under 
the government’s indigenisation plans, in a sharp rebuke of a minister who 
said a day earlier a sovereign wealth fund would be set up to take 51 
percent shares in mines.

The contrast in policy statements highlighted the deep fissures within the 
unity government, which Tsvangirai formed with President Robert Mugabe in 
2009, but which has been wobbled by differences over policy and how to share 
executive power.

The tug of war comes just a day after an investor conference ended in Harare 
and analysts say this will reinforce foreign investor skepticism that 
Zimbabwe was not open to outside investment and would not protect private 
property rights.

Tsvangirai told company executives at a meeting hosted by the weekly 
Zimbabwe Independent newspaper that cabinet had not even drawn up detailed 
plans on a proposed sovereign fund to purchase shares in mining companies.

“As far as I am concerned, cabinet has not adopted minimum thresholds for 
companies and for sectors,” Tsvangirai said.

“Until such time that he (Youth and Indigenisation Minister Saviour 
Kasukuwere) comes to cabinet with minimum thresholds for sectors it is 
against the law. I don’t know how Kasukuwere is going to enforce taking over 
51 percent because he doesn’t have that legal position,” Tsvangirai said.

Kasukuwere, whom Mugabe has given the task of identifying foreign companies 
for takeover, including mines and banks, said on Wednesday that Zimbabwe 
would in fact nationalize the mining sector by setting up a sovereign fund 
to own 51 percent shares of mines.

Investor Confusion

That position was accepted by ZANU-PF’s politburo this week and analysts 
said Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would be powerless if 
Mugabe’s allies moved ahead to expropriate foreign companies.

Kasukuwere said the regulations on the mining sector would be gazetted 

This has cast a cloud on investors who see opportunities in the resource 
rich country, which has the second largest platinum reserves and large 
deposits of coal, iron ore, gold and chrome among other minerals but worry 
about their investments.

“It is only the politburo decisions that matter to Mugabe, forget about what 
they talk about in cabinet,” said John Makumbe, a senior political science 
lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe and strong Mugabe critic.

The MDC party is at odds with ZANU-PF over the indigenisation drive, arguing 
that if the process is rushed it would reverse economic recovery. The 
labour-backed party instead prefers gradual empowerment over a long period.

Tsvangirai said he was frustrated with conflicting statements from the unity 
government and suggested that ZANU-PF ministers were taking their orders 
outside cabinet, the sole organ that makes government decisions.

A special cabinet session would be held next week to deal with problems in 
the unity government, Tsvangirai said.

“There are policy inconsistencies and it worries we when there are 
conflicting statements coming from the same government which then undermines 
confidence,” the Zimbabwean prime minister said.

Government Disharmony

As if to illustrate the disharmony within the fragile coalition, Tsvangirai 
was informed that his Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma 
had just been arrested by police, a move which will renew tensions in 

The Supreme Court also yesterday nullified the election as Speaker of 
Parliament in 2008 of MDC’s Lovemore Moyo, after the MDC ended ZANU-PF’s 
majority in Parliament for the first time since independence in 1980.

The court ruling could pit ZANU-PF and MDC in a bitter fight as the two 
parties seek to have their candidates as Speaker but analysts warn that a 
prolonged stalemate would deal a blow to key electoral reforms which are 
expected to be debated in parliament this year.

In a sign of frustration Tsvangirai said the MDC would not recognise the 
ruling and branded the Supreme Court judges as “ZANU-PF politicians 
masquerading as judges” in comments that may earn him contempt of court 
charges in future.

The unity government has been tenuous since its formation since 2009 with 
sharp differences on the issue of sanctions, indigenisation, timing of 
elections and political and economic reforms.

Tsvangirai said ZANU-PF’s indigenisation drive was political rhetoric as the 
former ruling party pushes to hold presidential and parliamentary elections 
this year, which the MDC fears could lead to bloodshed and economic chaos.

“You probably need six months to eight months (after a referendum on new 
constitution), which makes elections this side of the year almost 
impossible,” Tsvangirai said. “I am trying to be frank with you, it makes 
2011 not possible to have an election.” — ZimOnline


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