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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Says Black Economic Empowerment Program to Stay


Sources in Zimbabwe's fragile national unity government say a rift between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai over indigenization is widening to the point of jeopardizing cohesion

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, officiating Thursday at the launch of a community share trust set up to hold equity made over by platinum miner Zimplats, said the government does not want to take over mine operations under indigenization but intends to ensure the country's black majority shares in resource wealth.

President Mugabe put his personal stamp on the launch of the Mhondoro Ngezi Zvimba Community Share Ownership Trust set up to manage Zimplats shares transferred under the indigenization or black economic empowerment program.

He told Zimplats Chairman David Brown that foreign investors should stay as junior partners in Zimbabwean business ventures, repeating that the indigenization program is intended to ensure the majority of black Zimbabweans share in the national wealth, as correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported from Selous, Mashonaland West province.

Social development expert Liberty Bhebhe of the National Youth Development Trust offered the view that more companies should follow the Zimplats example in cooperating with the indigenization program – but warned politicians may hijack the scheme.

Meanwhile, sources in Zimbabwe's national unity government say a rift between President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai over indigenization is widening to the point of jeopardizing the cohesion of the already fragile government.

Mr. Mugabe has urged the process be expedited. But Mr. Tsvangirai says the impact of the program on the economy must be assessed before pushing ahead.

Mr. Tsvangirai has asked Minister of State Jameson Timba, a top aide, to call a meeting of economic ministries including Indigenization, Mining, Industry, Finance and Tourism.

Mr. Tsvangirai wants to pressure Kasukuwere to move more cautiously on the indigenization of key economic sectors such as banking and mining to give the Cabinet a full account of the impact thus far of the indigenization drive. US investors recently told Mr. Tsvangirai that the program is a deterrent to investing in Zimbabwe.

Indigenization Minister Kasukuwere told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that there is no turning back, even where banking is concerned. Harare economist John Robertson said targeting foreign-owned banks could backfire on the government.

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