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Zimbabwe government continues to give mixed signals over indigenization policy

06-18-2010 16:17 BJT

By Tichaona Chifamba

HARARE, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Mixed signals continue to filter through Zimbabwe's inclusive government over plans to indigenize the economy, with President Robert Mugabe sticking to a wholesale ceding of majority shares by foreigners.

His major partner in the inclusive government and political rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, however, insists that the policy should be revised so that potential investors are not scared away and implementation is not discriminatory.

Mugabe made his latest call for a 49 percent maximum shareholding structure for foreigners when he addressed the Children's Parliament on Wednesday, urging them to prepare to become employers and owners of resources instead of being mere employees.

The law was passed in 2007 when President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF was the only one running the affairs of government.

Mugabe said foreign companies should be minority partners in joint ventures with indigenous Zimbabweans who are the owners of the resources that are being exploited.

"These resources belong to us, to our youths. We want our youths organized as owners of companies. So if we agree to your being here, we want you to be partners, but junior on the minor side of that partnership. We have 51 percent at least, and you have 49 percent, not more.So our youths must go into this as shareholders and not just as workers to sweat some. We want you to be shareholders. It's your country, it's your country. You are no longer owned by someone else. If you are free, make your resources free also, free from the colonialism of the past," he said.

However, indigenization minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who is also a member of Mugabe's party, recently indicated that the new policy would be sector sensitive and come up with shareholding thresholds based on the nature of businesses.

New thresholds in terms of compliance would be published after consultations with the sector players, Kasukuwere told a recent press conference.

Therefore, Mugabe's latest utterances appeared to dampen that spirit and point to the way the party feels towards the policy, to such an extent that it may want to push it as a constitutional issue during the outreach program on the constitution launched on Wednesday.

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