MINISTER of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Francis Nhema says Government will “vigorously” pursue the transfer of majority ownership of all foreign-owned firms but the programme will not be implemented in a “one size fits all approach”.Addressing delegates who attended the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries conference in Bulawayo last week, Minister Nhema said the indigenisation and empowerment programme would be implemented for the benefit of all Zimbabweans.
The policy compels foreign-owned companies to turn over their majority stakes to black Zimbabweans.
“It is undisputable that as a country we should vigorously pursue the indigenisation and economic empowerment agenda for the benefit of the generality of Zimbabweans while ensuring that we retain our comparative advantage as a nation especially with regards to our manufacturing sector,” said Minister Nhema.
“There is therefore no debate on the imperative of indigenisation. It is the process of implementation that attracts interrogation. We are not applying a one size fits all approach.
“The peculiarities in each sector and nuances therefore are taken into account in the implementation process. Some big foreign-owned companies such as Zimbabwe Platinum Mines and Mimosa Mining Company have since come up with term sheets on how they intend to comply.”
Some of the companies that have already complied include Old Mutual and British America Tobacco.
Minister Nhema noted there was need to create a new mindset saying the emphasis now should not be “go and take this (existing firms) but go and start your company”.
He said Government was prepared to dialogue regarding concerns over the policy.
“The whole issue here is we want to dialogue,” he said. “Tell us the limitations with regards to the law.”
Government works closely with the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board that has been tasked with spearheading the process of transforming the peripheral role of the indigenous majority in the economy to a leading role in the mainstream economy together with the attendant benefits of improving their standards of living. It was established through an Act of Parliament in April 2008.
Considerable progress has been achieved in the indigenisation of the mining sector that has seen the major companies entering into life-changing empowerment deals that have benefited communities in Mashonaland West, Matabeleland North, Midlands and Manicaland.
Community Share Ownership Trusts that have been established in these areas have been used to develop facilities such as roads, schools and clinics.
Workers have also benefited from the indigenisation programme through employee share ownership trusts where they were given shares in various companies such as Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited, British American Tobacco Zimbabwe, PPC, Old Mutual and various mining houses.