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Zimbabwe Indigenization Minister Says Firms Complying - But Announces 30-Day Extension

Conflicting reports from cabinet about the indigenization regulations has left Harare businesses in limbo though they are complying.

Zimbabwean Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said Tuesday that hundreds of firms have submitted plans to sell majority stakes to local blacks despite moves by the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to force broad revision of indigenization regulations.

Political sources said Mr. Tsvangirai brought up indigenization in the Cabinet on Tuesday, saying the program should be put on hold until consultations are complete. But sources said the Cabinet remains divided leaving Kasukuwere very much in charge.

Some legal experts said only the minister can suspend or amend or repeal the regulations by publishing another statutory instrument in the state gazette.

Kasukuwere and the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe have adopted a hardline stance saying there is no going back on black empowerment, much like the land reform drive launched in 2000.

Parliament’s Committee on Indigenization is examining the 2007 legislation behind the regulations, but sources said the panel's powers are limited as it can only make recommendations on the process.

Kasukuwere said more than 400 companies have given his ministry plans on how they intend to put a minimum 51 percent of equity in the hands of black investors, including multinationals Unilever, British American Tobacco and Impala of South Africa. But banks were said to be dragging their feet on compliance.

Kasukuwere told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that companies that have not submitted their plans have been given an extra 30 days to do so.

Employers' Confederation of Zimbabwe Chief Executive John Mufukare said his group hopes Kasukuwere will consider its recommendations for a more moderate approach tailored to each economic sector.