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Divisions Over Indigenization Intensify Within Zimbabwe's Power-Sharing Government

Officials of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change insist the Cabinet suspended the regulations pending their revision, but President Robert Mugabe said the regulations remained in force

Political tensions between Zimbabwe's power-sharing parties over black economic empowerment escalated this week with a declaration from President Robert Mugabe that recently promulgated regulations for indigenization of larger companies have not been suspended, contrary to an earlier announcement by a spokesman for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Following Mr. Mugabe's remarks to reporters late on Wednesday, sources in Mr. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change formation including Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma insisted the cabinet suspended the indigenization regulations on Tuesday and proposed new rules that should have been published by Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

Mr. Mugabe said the regulations were being reviewed, but dismissed reports they had been suspended and declared null and void by the Cabinet.

Economic Planning Minister Mangoma told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that cabinet agreed on a new set of rules and he was surprised that Kasukuwere had not yet published them in the state gazette.

Though Mr. Tsvangirai's party endorses indigenization or black empowerment in principle, he and other party officials have expressed concern at the regulations and the timing of the law obliging companies with assets of $US500,000 or more to see that indigenous blacks hold a controlling 51 percent stake within five years.

Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that both ZANU-PF and the MDC agree that the regulations are being reviewed, saying their differences arise mainly from semantics.