THE Minister of Indigenisation and Empowerment, Paul Mangwana, says foreign companies that are not happy with the indigenisation law which was passed by
parliament this week can pack their bags and go.
Parliament this week passed the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill that will compel foreign companies to sell 51% to locals. The Bill is now awaiting President Robert Mugabe’s approval to become law.
The move triggered fears in the market that it will scare away potential investors as well as force the few remaining foreign companies to leave.
Analysts say the law will further damage investor confidence which has already hit rock-bottom because of government policy flip-flops and failure to respect property rights.
Mangwana however says he is unmoved by these concerns. He says he does not care if the foreign companies leave. “If they don’t want (the law) they can go. We don’t care,” Mangwana said.
“If they feel that we went into the bush (liberation war) for them to enjoy our wealth then they can leave. We are talking about the total liberation of this country. I have no apologies for that.”
“They can leave now,” said Mangwana. Business people are concerned that the Bill gives the responsible minister sweeping powers.
The minister has the power to review, approve or reject all proposed transactions. The minister will also have sweeping powers to cancel the operating licences of companies that fail to comply with the stipulated shareholding structure. Mangwana said these powers are necessary to move the indigenisation process.
“What is wrong with those powers? Why should a minister oversee such a process and not have real powers?”
Mangwana said non-black people who want to benefit from the indigenisation programme should prove that they were disadvantaged by the colonial regime..
“In other words they should prove that they did not benefit from the (Ian) Smith regime,” he said.
Asked what criteria government would use to determine who benefited from the Smith regime, Mangwana said it was clear that every non-black person was not the real victim of colonialism in Zimbabwe.
“There were laws specifically targeting blacks and that is a fact. It cannot be disputed.” Asked whether this might not turn out to be a grabbing contest like land reform, Mangwana said he was convinced that the indigenisation process “will be as successful as the land redistribution exercise”.
“It’s not factual to say that the land reform has been a failure,” he said.
He said the empowerment programme will be designed along the same lines as the land reform.
“In the land reform we had the A1 and A2 programmes. That is the same process we will use. There will be a programme for those rich Zimbabweans who already have money to buy shares from foreign companies. There will also be a plan for the common people who will be able to borrow from government to buy the shares,” said Mangwana.
Companies already listed on the stock exchange will not be spared either, said Mangwana.
“Listed companies will have to comply. We are not going to have a situation where blacks are used as fronts for foreign investors. Every transaction will be investigated to make sure it fits into the policy.”