A GERMAN business delegation has postponed its trip to Zimbabwe to explore investment opportunities, citing the controversial empowerment regulations as the main reason for the deferment.
The Germans said the country was now a “no go’ area for foreign investment and unattractive for German businesses due to the regulations.
The business delegation was due on April 20 for close to a week to attend the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo and for a series of meetings in Harare.
The purpose of the trip was to explore business opportunities and establish contacts in mining and energy sectors.
The delegation was coming under the banner of German African Business Association in Hamburg and the German-Southern African Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Johannesburg.
Regional Manager for Southern Africa of the German African Business Association, Andreas Wenzel said current conditions are not conducive for the delegation to visit.
“Prompted by the recently introduced regulations for implementation of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act the German African Business Association in Hamburg and the German-Southern African Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Johannesburg are putting on hold their plans to bring German investors to Zimbabwe,” said Wenzel in a statement.
However, he said given the ongoing discussions on the possibility of substantially revising the regulations, a visit could be rescheduling to the second half of the year.
The indigenisation regulations, which were gazetted in February and became effective in March, state that foreign firms valued at US$500 million or more should cede 51% of their shareholding to locals.
The regulations gave foreign-owned companies 45 days to submit proposals to the government on how they plan to bring on board the locals quota.
Responding to questions from the Zimbabwe Independent on Tuesday, the German Embassy said: “The Association…feared given the current situation in Zimbabwe, it would not be attractive for Germans (or foreigners in general for that matter) to go on a business trip to Zimbabwe.”
“As the invitation has not been sent out, we cannot say anything about the possible composition of the delegation. However, it most likely would have been similar to the one which visited Zimbabwe in September 2009, mining, trade and energy sector being the most important ones” the embassy said.
German Ambassador to Zimbabwe Albrecht Conze said despite the postponement, Germany still has “overall great interest in further developing bilateral trade relations”.
“Germany used to be among the top three of Zimbabwe’s important trading partners. This is where we would like to be again” he said.
The cancellation, however would not affect Germany’s participation at the ZITF.
At a press briefing last week in Bulawayo, new ZITF chairman Bekithemba Nkomo said they were looking forward to the Germans’ visit.
“Close to 10 German companies based in South African have confirmed their participation at ZITF and that’s an exciting development,” Nkomo had told journalists.
Nkomo said the companies would “spend a few more days in the country after the trade fair”.