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Foreigners heeding Zimbabwe ownership rules: paper

By on April 20, 2010

Hundreds of foreign firms in Zimbabwe have submitted plans to sell majority stakes to local blacks, state media said on Tuesday, despite confusion over an affirmative action law that has divided the unity government.

Zimbabwe’s Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, an ally of President Robert Mugabe, last month ordered firms to report details of ownership and plans to achieve majority local control.

Under the regulations, which took effect on March 1, foreign-owned companies must submit plans to show how they will sell 51 percent of their shares to black Zimbabweans within five years.

The power-sharing government formed by Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last year is divided over the regulations, which Tsvangirai has said were issued without consulting the cabinet.

A spokesman for Tsvangirai said last week the regulations had been suspended, a statement that was quickly denied by both Mugabe and Kasukuwere.

Kasukuwere told the state-controlled Herald newspaper on Tuesday that foreign firms were complying.

“We have so far received more than 400 submissions from various companies and as government we are happy with such an overwhelming response,” he told the newspaper.

Units of British American Tobacco Plc, Unilever and South Africa’s Impala Platinum are among the companies that have submitted plans, the newspaper said.

Firms that have not yet submitted plans will get a 30-day extension from the April 15 deadline, Kasukuwere told the newspaper, adding the government could terminate licences of companies that did not comply.

Mugabe’s ZANU-PF government passed an indigenisation and economic empowerment law in 2007, before the formation of a unity government with Tsvangirai’s MDC last year.

Analysts have said the empowerment policy would discourage foreign investment and hurt efforts to fix Zimbabwe’s crippled economy.


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