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Indigenisation laws misunderstood –– Mugabe

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday made an appeal to investors saying laws limiting foreign ownership of businesses had been misunderstood and should not be seen as a discouragement.

With a unity government in place between Mugabe and his old rival Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe is trying to recover from economic collapse that the president’s critics blame on policies such as his seizures of white-owned farms.

Zimbabwe badly needs foreign funds, but among concerns for investors in mines and other businesses are empowerment laws which limit foreign ownership to 49%.
“Foreign direct investment is most welcomed as it brings new technology, capital and new markets,” Mugabe told an investment conference in Zimbabwe that drew foreign fund managers, financiers, investors and entrepreneurs.
“Such policies as the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act should not be viewed as obstacles to investment promotion… They should be welcomed as promotive of the greater participation of our people in the economy.”
On land reform, Mugabe repeated his stance that former colonial ruler Britain was responsible for paying owners who were stripped of their farms. He blames Western sanctions for Zimbabwe’s economic decline.
Tsvangirai said that all parties in Zimbabwe recognised land reform was needed but differed on their approach.
“We are going to conduct a land audit and we will set up a land commission to address all disputes arising from land reform,” he told the conference, which would itself have been unthinkable before the unity government was set up in February.
Tsvangirai went to the United States and Europe last month to woo investors and donors, but the trip yielded scant funds and put him under increased pressure to persuade Mugabe to agree to reforms. –– Reuters.

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