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Stop this confusion

ONLY last week we dwelt on the debilitating effects of the ambiguity that has become the hallmark of the country’s empowerment policy on the country’s struggling economy which is showing worrisome symptoms of further decline.

The Zimbabwe Independent Editorial

Our concerns were informed by the continued degeneration of the policy which many deem, in its current form, unworkable and a recipe for investor flight — a situation not helped by the constant public clashes and contradictions on precisely what the policy entails.

We feel compelled to revisit the issue again for, as if to illustrate our point, the policy opacity and inconsistency in which the empowerment drive is mired continues to plumb new depths, with dire implications for the country’s protracted but futile efforts to lure meaningful foreign direct investment.

While remarks by Information minister Jonathan Moyo, to which acres of space were devoted in the state media including a thumbs-up from business and lawyers, appeared to have delineated the indigenisation thrust, in reality they have sowed further policy confusion as if there was not enough of it already.

This is because Indigenisation minister Francis Nhema, in an interview with this paper, revealed Moyo’s detail-laden announcement disclosing government had proposed that the Production Sharing Model and the Joint Empowerment Investment Model be the new game in town as far as sector-specific implementation was concerned, was merely Moyo’s opinion!

Moyo had given the nuts and bolts of the empowerment model under which the country’s abundant natural resources would be wholly indigenised as the ruling Zanu PF party battles to deliver on lofty promises dangled ahead of last year’s general elections.

What is galling about this continued muddle is that Indigenisation deputy minister Mathias Tongofa told parliament only a week ago that government has no intention of revisiting the policy to make it more investor-friendly. That, despite President Robert Mugabe on Independence Day indicating 51% local ownership should only apply where foreign companies have been established, mainly on the basis of natural resources, mostly in mining and agriculture.

Therein lies the major problem: A repletion of views spawned by lack of consistency as policy is at the mercy of political expediency.

The clarity deficit is despite intense national debate stretching back to 2007 when Zanu PF formally mulled the process, and its adoption in 2010.

Enough of this confusion! Investors are unlikely to take Zimbabwe seriously and will continue giving it the wide berth as long as the long-running indigenisation circus remains in town.

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