INDIGENISATION and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere says fears that Zimbabweâ€™s black economic programme would be chaotic like the land reform are unfounded.
Kasukuwere told reporters that foreign investors had nothing to fear from a planned empowerment exercise because it will not be done carelessly.
He said â€œempowerment is a mustâ€ for the country but should not be implemented in a chaotic manner.
Said Kasukuwere: â€œWe (government) are not going to be careless with what we will do in terms of empowerment this time. Empowerment is a must and the majority of the people should be empowered.
We have invited businesses to share ideas on how best we can implement the empowerment programme.
Â â€œNot all companies are going to be affected by this shareholding threshold (51%). In other cases, depending on the size of investment (capital), shareholding set aside for indigenous Zimbabweans would be lower. A lot of things will determine how much locals can get in a firm. It is not just a clear case of control,â€ he said.
But analysts remain sceptical of governmentâ€™s objectives when it comes to empowerment owing to suspicions that the ruling elite stands to gain in the event of an empowerment programme.
Asked if the planned empowerment was a pretext for politicians to line their pockets with more money, Kasukuwere argued that his ministry was committed to seeing the majority of ordinary Zimbabweans owning the means of production.
â€œWe want to see empowerment of the majority of our people. A lot of mines have shut down over the years, and all they left behind are very big trenches and ditches and nothing for the communities. This is what we want to change. We want to see our people empowered as well.â€
But a foreign investor with interests in mining said governmentâ€™s plan to have a 51% stake in foreign businesses would â€œnip any investment in the budâ€.
â€œTo demand 51% will only kill any deal,â€ the investor said.
â€œAfter an investment starts, a 51% is not only allowable but workable if done over a period of time. But there is need to train and equip locals with skills and knowledge of business to ensure their success in business,â€ added the investor.
South Africa embarked on a black economic empowerment drive a few years ago but the exercise is now mired in controversy after ruling African National Congress officials allegedly got a lionâ€™s share of the empowerment deals.
Early this month, President Robert Mugabe assured a group of South African businessmen that Zimbabwe was a safe business destination but avoided talk of indigenisation.
An empowerment law which, among other things, provides for the mandatory sale of at least 51% stake in a foreign owned business to locals was enacted last year.
Investors have been jittery about investing in Zimbabwe because of the political situation.
Zimbabwe needs foreign direct investment in key sectors such as mining, pharmaceutical, banking and engineering.
PresidentÂ Robert Mugabe has over the years threatened to take over foreign owned business but never followed through on the promise.
BY CHRIS MURONZI