The interim leader of the opposition National Constitutional Assembly party, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, says Zimbabwe’s indigenization law is causing anxiety in potential investors, worsening the country’s economic crisis.
In an exclusive interview with VOA, Madhuku said, “I think many people who would have money to put in the country would not be happy to do it for two main reasons.
“The first one is the reason relating to the insecurity of their investment you know with the indigenization policy where government wants to just grab whatever investment there is. The second one is that there are so many policy inconsistencies, if you are bringing investment here you do not know what will happen next.”
Zimbabwe’s 2007 controversial indigenization law states that foreign and white-owned companies with assets of more than $500,000 must transfer or sell a 51 percent stake to blacks or the Zimbabwe’s National Economic Empowerment Board.
Though there were signs that some cabinet ministers were willing to amend the law to attract investment, the new Indigenization Minister Patrick Zhuwawo who is President Robert Mugabe’s nephew ruled out any changes to the law.
“My boss has a Master’s Degree in economics …,” Zhuwawo told an indigenization conference in Harare, adding "so, don’t think you can lecture us about economics, we understand it,"
In a separate report, the state-controlled Chronicle newspaper quoted Zhuwawo as proposing a 10% empowerment levy on companies as part of efforts to generate internal resources to fund the indigenization programme.
"For us to be able to fund empowerment programmes in the long–term, we are proposing the introduction of an empowerment levy and we’re empowered by law to propose the law," Zhuwawo said.
Economists are warning that such pronouncements by Mr. Mugabe's cabinet ministers scares away potential investors.
Zimbabwe, grappling with a severe liquidity crunch, has an external debt and outstanding arrears of about US$10 billion.
The huge debt has made it difficult for Harare to attract new finance from the private sector or attract funds from multilateral institutions and donor countries, hence government’s decision to engage creditors for relief.
Multilateral institutions and donor countries have, however, demanded that the country embarks on a raft of economic and political reforms before entertaining any hopes of attracting new funds.
Madhuku says for the country to recover, there is need for leadership renewal. “The first thing is to have a very clean government, people that are not corrupt because even as bad as things are, it does not mean that the country has no resources or has no economic activities. We have lots of minerals and we can improve our minerals.”
Madhuku also defended his party's decision to break ranks with some opposition parties to participate in by-elections that they are boycotting to push for electoral reforms.
He said there is a push to introduce the NCA to the electorate ahead of the 2018 elections.
WHO IS LOVEMORE MADHUKU?
Born on 20 July 1966 in Madhuku village, Madhuku completed his primary and secondary education in Chipinge. He then completed his Bachelor of Law (Honours) degree in 1989 with a first-class pass at the University of Zimbabwe and went on to study for a post-graduate Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree.
Awarded a Beit Trust Fellowship to study law at Oxford University in the UK, he transferred after a term to study for the Master of Law (LLM) at the University of Cambridge on a Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Scholarship, completing with a first class in July 1994.
He then returned to Zimbabwe for an 18-month break, during which time he joined the Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung, a German NGO, as a labor law consultant while at the same time teaching in the Law Faculty.
In January 1996, he returned to the University of Cambridge to study for a PhD, which he successfully completed in December 1998. While still studying for his PhD, he accepted a permanent lecturership in the Law Faculty at the University of Zimbabwe.
Since then, Madhuku has taught introduction to law, constitutional law, labor law, jurisprudence (legal theory), tax law, and banking law and has published extensively in these areas.
He is currently chairperson of the Department of Public Law in the Law Faculty. Madhuku is very active in civil society work.
He is one of the founders of the National Constitutional Assembly and has been its national chairperson since July 2001. The NCA is advocating for a new, democratic and people-driven constitution in Zimbabwe.
He is married to Anna Mercy and they have three children, a daughter, Tendai, and two sons, Nyasha and Kuziyakwashe.