INDIGENISATION minister Francis Nhema has said Information minister Jonathan Moyo’s announcement that the country was considering two empowerment models and was looking at amending the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act was merely the minister’s personal opinion, not policy.
In an interview on Wednesday, Nhema, in the presence of his deputy Mathias Tongofa, also dismissed claims by Moyo that the government was generally agreed on two new indigenisation models.
Nhema said there were no proposed amendments to the Act, querying where Moyo was getting the amendments from and who had agreed to the implementation of the proposals.
In a lengthy interview with The Sunday Mail, Moyo said the Production Sharing Model (PSM) and the Joint Empowerment Investment Model (JEIM) had been identified as the foremost vehicles through which the indigenisation policy would now be implemented.
The PSM is a broad cover for an assortment of production-sharing agreements signed between governments and extraction companies relating to how much of a resource extracted from the country each would receive.
Under the JEIM, outside mining, agriculture and particular tourism investments, locals will be encouraged to enter joint ventures as a way of generating capital to build wholly Zimbabwean-owned enterprises.
“There’s been quite some debate in government about this important implementation issue since the adoption of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) and that debate is continuing as it should,” Moyo told the Sunday Mail.
“There is a growing if not a decided consensus that the model with the best possibility or chance of meeting the ideological, legal and policy necessities of indigenisation and empowerment are the Production Sharing Model and the Joint Empowerment Investment Model.”
But Nhema said he would not comment on the proposals revealed by Moyo as they were merely personal opinion.
“I am not changing anything. You (the media) have not spoken to me,” Nhema said. “It (Moyo’s pronouncement) is an opinion. I cannot comment on that. I do not think it is fair.”
Nhema expressed deep concern over the indigenisation furore in the state media while speaking at a forum for chief financial officers held by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe on Tuesday.
“The debate in the paper left a sour taste in my mouth,” a disappointed Nhema told delegates. “It was not the place to discuss it.”
In the interview, he said the widespread belief that he has taken a softer stance on indigenisation was not true as he is implementing the Act to the letter.
Nhema said: “People say I have taken a soft stance. But I am implementing the indigenisation programme. Have I taken a soft stance?”
He said there has been no climbdown on the indigenisation policy as suggested after a flurry of investments in several financial institutions.
Afrasia Bank Ltd recently increased its shareholding in Afrasia Zimbabwe Holdings Ltd to 62,5% , following the injection of an additional US$20 million.
The injection of US$20 million into the local financial institution came hot on the heels of the recently acquired ABC Holdings majority stake by international investor Atlas Mara.
A Russian investor, Horizon Capital Consortium, is in the process of acquiring Tetrad Investment Bank pending approval by regulatory authorities.
Nhema said contrary to perception, the law allowed him to be flexible and not apply a one-size-fits-all approach to indigenisation.
He cited Section 3(5) of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act (Chapter 14:33) which states that “The minister may prescribe that a lesser share than fifty-one percentum or a lesser interest than a controlling interest may be acquired by indigenous Zimbabweans in any business referred to in subsections 1(b) (iii), (1)c (i), (1)d and (e) in order to achieve compliance with those provisions, but in so- doing he or she shall prescribe the general maximum timeframe within which the fifty-one per centum share or controlling interest shall be attained.”
The section goes further to say: “Please note that such a lesser share may be prescribed in a business, being above the prescribed threshold, which business is undergoing any of the following merger, unbundling/demerger, involving the relinquishment of a controlling interest in the business or involves investment in sectors of economy in preserved for investment for domestic investors in terms of the Zimbabwe Investment Act.”
All the investors in various sectors of the economy have made an undertaking to empower the community, which includes helping to fund the country’s 58 vocational centres, Nhema said.
He is happy that all the major companies were complying with the requirements of the indigenisation policy. In the same interview Mathias Tongofa said his ministry was working with its monitoring and evaluation team to recover debts owed by youths to the Central Africa Building Society (Cabs), borrowed for empowerment projects.
He said more than 65% of the funds loaned to youths were non-performing, adding that they are consulting with Cabs on the identity of the debtors and would try to find them and ensure they pay up.