Pressure on Kasukuwere to reverse US$1,7bn deals

ZIMBABWE’S controversial indigenisation programme, the centre-piece of Zanu PF’s election campaign, is now hanging in the balance amid indications major empowerment deals worth US$1,7 billion could soon be revisited or reversed.

Report by Faith Zaba

Official sources said yesterday pressure was mounting on Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere to agree to revisit the deals, which have caused a storm in the corridors of power.

“There is growing pressure for the indigenisation transactions, which are at the centre of the current row, to be revisited or reversed,” a government official said yesterday. “This has left the indigenisation programme hanging in the balance.”

Senior government and Zanu PF officials have of late been clashing over the indigenisation programme, with one group led by Kasukuwere and the other by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono battling over the process.

The fight is mainly centred on the ideological thrust of the policy, its conceptual basis, framework, implementation mechanisms, liaisons, valuation of companies, legislative issues, exchange rate approvals, consultation fees as well as terms and conditions of agreements.

Kasukuwere has mainly been supported by Zanu politburo member and former Information minister Jonathan Moyo and the party’s youths, while Gono is backed by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

President Robert Mugabe last week said Kasukuwere has made some mistakes.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai recently urged parliament to investigate indigenisation deals. Finance minister Tendai Biti has warned some aspects of indigenisation are “illegal”.

Official sources said this week the indigenisation issue was raised during Mugabe’s Monday morning briefings amid indications of a widening fallout over it.

There were attempts last week by Anti-Corruption Commission and Zimra to scrutinise and investigate empowerment transactions.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Gono indicated, following Mugabe’s remarks on Kasukuwere’s blunders, there was a need to revisit the major indigenisation deals.

“We also need to pay attention to the conditions attached to some of these transactions and violations of standing exchange control laws, rules and regulations, all of which could have been avoided had necessary consultations been done,” he said. “These problems technically render some of these transactions null and void if fundamental amendments required are not done.”

Gono said he had held meetings with Mugabe and Mujuru to discuss the issue. Major deals done so far include Zimplats (US$971 million), Mimosa (US$550m), Anglo-American (US$142m), Pretoria Portland Cement (US$27,8m) and Caledonia (US$30m), all worth US$1,7bn.


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