FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa says government will adopt a flexible approach in the implementation of the indigenisation policy, which will see foreign investors in crucial sectors such as banking, manufacturing and infrastructural development being spared the requirement of ceding 51% shareholding to the state or indigenous Zimbabweans.
By Herbert Moyo
This is a major climb-down from former Indigenisation minister, Saviour Kasukuwere’s combative approach which forced all foreign-owned companies, including banks, with a net asset value of US$ 500 000 or more to cede 51% shareholding.
During a briefing to Western diplomats on the government’s recently-launched Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset), Chinamasa admitted that the lack of clarity around the policy which was the cornerstone of ruling party Zanu PF’s election campaign for the July 31 polls, which it won, had created uncertainty that may be hindering the country’s chances of attracting foreign investment.
“We need to be very clear about indigenisation and in the coming months (Indigenisation minister Francis) Nhema will be clarifying sector by sector what the policy means,” said Chinamasa, who added that it might even be necessary to change the name due to the negative perceptions around it.
“There are examples like in power generation where we will not demand 51% from the investor. It is the same with roads and railways. Even with manufacturing you cannot say to Coca Cola I now own your business.”
However, he said there are other areas such as mining where the 51% policy may be implemented because the country needs to benefit fully from depleting non-renewable resources. Chinamasa’s remarks came after concerns raised by the Norwegian and Swiss diplomats that lack of clarity around the implementation of the policy was breeding uncertainty among potential and international investors.
He said indigenisation was necessary to create a platform for locals to participate as stakeholders in the Zimbabwean economy having been excluded by the colonial system of pre-Independence Rhodesian era.