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Zimbabwe Ministers Clash Over Proposed Empowerment Levy

Zimbabwe's empowerment and finance ministers, Saviour Kasukuwere and Tendai Biti respectively, have clashed over the introduction of a new levy designed to raise funds to help locals buy shares in foreign-owned companies under the nation's controversial empowerment program.

The indigenization ministry says Biti is blocking the introduction of the levy because their two main parties in the coalition government, ZANU-PF and the MDC, are failing to agree on the policy.

Biti is arguing that most firms are currently facing major financial hardships while Kasukuwere claims that the finance minister is sabotaging the empowerment drive.

The indigenization law requires the government to introduce a levy to harness resources for local people to buy 51 percent stakes in foreign-owned firms.

Legal adviser Psychology Maziwisa of the indigenization ministry said Biti does not want the empowerment program to succeed.

Deputy organizing secretary Abednico Bhebhe of the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said most companies are currently struggling and cannot afford to pay the indigenization levy.

“The whole program needs to be revised because you cannot introduce a levy that will affect companies that are being targeted,” said Bhebhe.