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Zimbabwe Black Empowerment Leader Tries to Take Over White-Owned Firm in Harare

Though ZANU-PF provincial official Mliswa said he has acquired shares in the firm, some worried that indigenization is getting ahead of itself

Though Zimbabwean indigenization regulations were only published in March and according to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will be revised, sources said Themba Mliswa, vice president of the country's largest black empowerment organization, has been trying to take over a white-owned automobile accessories company in Harare.

News reports and industry sources said the Affirmative Action Group officer claims to hold a 50 percent stake in Benbar, having purportedly bought the shares through a third party.

Sources said Mliswa, also ZANU-PF secretary for land Mashonaland West Province, recently harassed the company’s directors, leading to his arrest.

Reached by VOA, Benbar directors, Mliswa and police all declined to comment. Affirmative Action Group Secretary General Tafadzwa Musarara told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that his organization has nothing to do with the wrangle.

Affirmative Action Group members "have not invaded any companies in Harare or elsewhere in Zimbabwe as we are bound by the laws of the country not to just take over any firm of our choice,” Musarara said.

He said his organization has been informed that Mliswa is not referring to the indigenization law in his efforts to take control of Benbar.

Political commentator Roderick Fayayo said the 2007 Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act has too many loopholes that could be used by unscrupulous individuals to grab white-owned companies.

“There is need to revise this piece of legislation as it is likely to be abused by militant ZANU-PF zealots in taking over white-owned firms,” Fayayo said.