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Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai Reiterates Opposition to Indigenization Program

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Under the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act, foreign-owned firms must put 51 percent of their shares in the hands of black Zimbabwean investors - which critics say is drying up foreign direct investment

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday reiterated opposition to the ZANU-PF-driven indigenization or black empowerment program telling journalists in South Africa that even if foreign companies were only required to cede 30 percent of their equity to local investors, that threshold would still be too high.

Under the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act, foreign-owned firms must put 51 percent of their shares in the hands of black Zimbabwean investors. Critics say the program is driving investors away and weighing on the fragile economy.

Mr. Tsvangirai told reporters on the sidelines of an agricultural show in Johannesburg that the black empowerment law goes too far, especially for mining companies.

He was reiterating comments he made to a rally on Sunday in Marondera, Mashonaland East province, where he described the indigenization drive as a ZANU-PF project that his Movement for Democratic Change formation is “totally against.”

His party says it will soon unveil its own empowerment policy.

Mr. Tsvangirai added in Johannesburg that he expects elections to be held in the second half of 2012, not at the beginning as demanded by President Robert Mugabe.

But Youth and Indigenization Ministry Legal Adviser Psychology Maziwisa told VOA reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that a 30 percent shareholding would be too little for local blacks, who he says should have a controlling stake in the economy.

"Morgan Tsvangirai never ceases to amaze me," Maziwisa said. "He always does the bidding for his Western master, but we don't do things that way in Zimbabwe."

Economist Godfrey Kanyenze commented that the entire indigenization project is skewed because the economic stakeholders were never consulted

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