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‘Indigenisation has to be flexible’

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday sought to clarify the controversial indigenisation policy — which has destabilised the economy and divided his officials — saying while the 51/49% equity model Zanu PF has been pursuing remains the framework, there will be flexibility in other areas outside the resource-based sectors.

Owen Gagare

Besides his critical remarks on indigenisation, Mugabe also promised at his inauguration yesterday to deal with socio-economic problems afflicting the country, including reviving collapsed industries, fixing social service delivery, food deficits and revamping infrastructure, although he did not say how.

Mugabe’s remarks trash the storming one-size-fits-all approach zealously pursued by outgoing Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere whose campaign damaged the economy as it scared away existing and potential investors.

Kasukuwere had to be halted in his tracks as he threatened to rampage across all sectors of the economy in a predatory mode.

“Where an investor brings in his or her capital, technology, expertise and raw materials, we will not insist on the principle,” Mugabe said. “However, where finite natural resources such as minerals were concerned, the country could not be bystanders in their exploitation.”

He added: “We need a share in all ventures that exploit our non-renewable natural resources. Where we can, we go it alone. Where we cannot do so, we seek partners on a 51/49% principle.”

This means the new government is likely going to push for such shareholding in the mining industry, while other sectors like banking are likely to have different thresholds. Kasukuwere and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono constantly clashed over this issue.

But Mugabe said: “Genuine partners should find this acceptable. We reject totally as skewed the economic principle which puts capital, technology or expertise before natural resources.”

Mugabe also promised to resolve the country’s water and electricity problems and improve other social services, among them the health delivery system, although he did not say how he plans to do this.
He said his government would rehabilitate infrastructure as well as industries, blaming failure over the last few years to problems in the inclusive government, sanctions and trade dynamics.

“Partly as a result of sanctions and partly because of regional manufacturing and trade dynamics, Zimbabwe has declined as a regional manufacturing centre. We are fast turning into one huge warehouse, a dumping ground for all manner of imports,” Mugabe said.

“Our cities and towns are dying. Bulawayo, for a long time the industrial capital of Zimbabwe, has now become a sorry industrial scrapyard. And this has been an indicative trend for all manufacturing centres in the country.

“Plans to resuscitate our ailing industries never took off largely because of internal contradictions during the era of the inclusive government. That era is gone and we must now move more purposefully.”

On international relations, Mugabe said: “We seek to diversify our relations to encompass new, emerging regions of the world.

Principally, we continue to look East, hoping all these countries which had held back on fears of our unsettled situation here, can now move forward to partner with us on clear parameters laid out in our policies.”

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