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Over 1 000 foreign firms ready to comply

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More than 1 000 foreign-owned firms have submitted plans to comply with the indigenisation policy, but less than half have so far been approved, an official said yesterday. A total of 1 119 plans have been assessed with 496 having been approved, outgoing Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere told an indigenisation and empowerment conference at the University of Zimbabwe yesterday. The approved plans are mainly from the manufacturing (155) and mining (135) sectors.

Mr Kasukuwere said Government would ensure foreign companies complied with the law. President Mugabe also told thousands who attended the Defence Forces Day celebrations in Harare on Tuesday that the next Government would do everything in its power to ensure the objective of total indigenisation was achieved. Under the broad- based empowerment programme, foreign-owned companies are to turn over their majority stakes to indigenous black Zimbabweans. Black economic empowerment was a major campaign platform in the Zanu-PF manifesto which saw the party convincingly win the July 31 harmonised elections.

“It has been labelled as a plan to empower the elite, but if the communities (that have benefited from the Community Share Ownership Trusts are described as elites, then that kind of group (of people) should be supported,” said Mr Kasukuwere.

He said people would have not voted for Zanu-PF if indigenisation was meant to empower a few.
To ensure the broad-based participation, several CSOTs and employee share ownership schemes were established countrywide.

The National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund, which holds shares on behalf of Zimbabweans, was also put in place. Plans are underway to establish a Sovereign Wealth Fund.

Mr Kasukuwere emphasised that indigenisation was not meant to nationalise foreign-controlled firms but an “affirmative action programme, requiring that no investor can conduct business in Zimbabwe without partnering with indigenous Zimbabweans”.

Contrary to perceptions that the programme was discouraging foreign investments, Mr Kasukuwere said “we believe it instead guarantees the security of foreign investment by insisting on mutually beneficial partners between the indigenous and non- indigenous.”

He also dismissed some claims that businesses from “friendly” countries were exempted from compliance as the law was being applied “consistently”.

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