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UK firms largest investors despite row

Gift Phiri

BRITISH companies remain firmly ensconced in the Zimbabwean economy, ranking among the country’s largest investors despite the drawn-out diplomatic row between Harare and London.

Information gleaned from the country’s prime investment promotion body, Zimbabwe Investment Centre, reveals that 414 British companies are still operating in Zimbabwe. In his opening remarks during the ruling Zanu PF’s National People’s Congress held two weeks ago, President Robert Mugabe said the economy was in the hands of a “racist minority and foreigners”. He said there were “over 400 British companies operating here making profits, and dividends being declared in England”.

“I am not sure if Mr Blair knows this,” he said.

The ZIC said there were 71 companies which were 100% British-owned while 208 had either an equal partnership with locals or had a dominating shareholding ranging from 60 to about 90%. Zimbabweans have a controlling shareholding in 143 companies, which also have partnerships with British companies. The companies operate across the spectrum of the economy from agriculture, communication, commerce, construction, manufacturing, mining, to tourism and transport.

It was not possible to obtain comment from the British Business Association, an affiliate of the British Embassy. But an embassy spokesperson told the Zimbabwe Independent that they did not immediately have comprehensive records of the number of British companies operating in Zimbabwe or their investment value.

“The British Embassy maintains contact with a number of companies operating in Zimbabwe which are branches of British companies or which are owned or part-owned by British parent companies,” the spokesperson said.

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