By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
24 April 2014
There appears to be attempts by the ruling ZANU PF party to soften its stance on the controversial indigenisation law that compels foreign owned firms to transfer a controlling shareholding to locals.
The law, enacted in 2008, has been criticised as an impediment in attracting much needed foreign direct investment.
Many analysts believe the law that requires all foreign firms, including mines and banks, to have majority control by local blacks has helped contribute to the present dire economic crisis in the country.
But last week Friday President Robert Mugabe in his Independence Day speech appeared to backtrack, saying the indigenisation program had been misunderstood.
He said not all foreign companies were targeted for takeovers disclosing there had been some confusion in the implementation of the program. Mugabe also ruled out a one-size-fits-all indigenisation approach, saying only companies utilising the country’s natural resources will be required to immediately turn over majority stakes to indigenous Zimbabweans.
This is a departure from the aggressive rhetoric adopted and normally used by former Indigenisation Minister Savior Kasukuwere.
Lately two moderates in Mugabe’s cabinet, Tourism and Indigenisation Ministers Walter Mzembi and Francis Nhema, cautioned against the law, warning of dire consequences to the economy.
Nhema has, since taking over from Kasukuwere at the indigenisation ministry, adopted a softer approach and indicated his willingness to relax the policy.
Speaking to our correspondent in Bulawayo on Wednesday, the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton, said the policy on indigenisation has not been consistent.
He emphasised that this creates a lot of uncertainty and lack of confidence, adding that if the rules change all the time it breeds concern and reluctance among investors.