Mugabe defends local takeover of Zimbabwe firms

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe defended on Wednesday his government’s drive to transfer majority control of foreign-owned firms to local blacks, saying wise investors would continue to put money into the country.

Minister of Indigenisation and Empowerment Saviour Kasukuwere, a Mugabe ally in Zimbabwe’s fractious unity government, told foreign firms last week to present plans on how they would transfer 51 percent shareholdings to local blacks within 45 days from March 1.

Mugabe rejected suggestions that implementation of an indigenisation law passed in 2007 would frighten off foreign investors, saying they could still hold large stakes in local companies.

“Forty-nine percent is a hell lot of equity, it is only the foolish ones who will say so,” he told reporters. “Wise ones will take it up.”

By contrast, Mugabe’s political rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said last week that the regulations were null and void because they had been published without being reviewed by him or the cabinet.

Analysts say the dispute shows rising tension in the year-old coalition government, which has failed to attract much-needed foreign aid and investment due to frequent wrangles over reforms.

This week the European Union extended sanctions on Zimbabwe for another 12 months, citing a lack of progress in fulfilling the power-sharing pact.

Mugabe earlier told an international tourism investment conference, hosted by his government, that foreign investors should partner African states to develop the sector.



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