MDC-T agonises over Indigenisation policy

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THE MDC-T is agonising over its position on the indigenisation policy amid internal fears that the local and international business communities could have lost faith in the party’s ability to protect businesses from seizure.

Report by Herbert Moyo

The controversial indigenisation policy was launched by the Zanu PF government in 2007 and the party has made it the centrepiece of its election campaign.

Despite the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) with the two MDC formations in 2009, Zanu PF continues to unilaterally controversially implement the policy.

Sources and internal documents obtained this week show there were fears the MDC-T had not done enough to counter Zanu PF on the controversial policy, as well as assure local and foreign investors about protection of their investment.

In fact, the party has been accused of shifting from its pre-GNU stance when it robustly opposed the policy to a current nebulous position. Presently, some senior MDC-T officials appear to back the policy, while others oppose it.

“The overriding perception of the MDC-T since the GNU in 2009 is that contrary to the stance of all-out opposition we took in 2007 when the Act was passed, it would appear we are no longer totally opposed to the policy and we accept that indigenisation must be implemented,” reads an internal MDC-T policy document.

Sources said even party leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had been warned that “the MDC-T’s ambivalence on the Indigenisation Act is likely to result in its loss of credibility in the eyes of the local and international community”.

They said the international community felt the MDC-T ought to be “more robust in resisting indigenisation”.

“There is evidence pointing to the fact that the business community which is vital in economic recovery programme in the country has slowly come to the conclusion that the solution to the problems emanating from the implementation of the Indigenisation Act can only be obtained from Zanu PF,” said a source.

Such is the panic in the business community this week as rumours continue to swell that British banking concern Standard Chartered Bank and other foreign-owned banks may have their Zimbabwean assets seized for failing to provide concrete plans to comply with indigenisation requirements.

MDC-T insiders say it is worrying that it has been Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, widely perceived to be Zanu PF, whose voice has been loudest in a one-size-fits-all implementation of indigenisation and warning Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere to leave foreign banks alone.

Gono assured Standard Chartered Bank this week that its banking licence would not be withdrawn while the MDC-T was deafeningly silent.

The MDC-T internal document also notes that as a consequence of the shortcomings of the party, the international community was now courting perceived Zanu PF moderates, including Gono and Vice-President Joice Mujuru, for protection from the harmful effects of Kasukuwere’s sustained attacks on foreign-owned businesses.

“Mujuru has been courted by both local and foreign business concerns that have lost faith in MDC-T’s ability to reign in Kasukuwere. That is why in December 2009, it was Mujuru and not Tsvangirai who was invited to a business conference by the local business community.

That is why it was Mujuru and not Tsvangirai who was approached by the Chamber of Mines in May 2011 to revoke the mining regulations issued by Kasukuwere in March 2011.”

Through General Notice 114 gazetted in 2011, Kasukuwere directed that mining companies should only sell their 51% shareholding to designated entities approved by his ministry, including the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.

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