Tsvangirai Dismisses Black Empowerment Law

“They were published without due process as detailed in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and the Constitution and they are therefore null and void,” Tsvangirai said on Tuesday.

The regulations gazetted on Monday, state that Zimbabwe will from March 1 jail white businesspeople who refuse to surrender majority shareholding of
their companies to black partners.

The regulations are part of an Ingenisation law that was passed by Parliament in 2008 prior to the controversial harmonised elections, which saw President Robert Mugabe losing to Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai, who is responsible for the formulation of all Government policy by Cabinet , said on Tuesday that neither he nor Cabinet reviewed the regulations before they were gazetted.

The Regulations were published by the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment in terms of section 21 of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act.

It is feared the regulations will scare off foreign investors, already jittery about Zimbabwe as an investment destination, as well as disenfranchising citizens due to the vague nature of their definition as to who qualifies as indigenous. In addition, the regulations would also discriminate against many black-owned companies from neighbouring African countries.

Without foreign direct investment in Zimbabwe, it will be difficult to kick-start the national economy, hampering Government’s ability to meet its commitments to improving the welfare of civil servants and essential services like health and education as well as hampering job creation.

The law aplies to businesses with assets worth more than $500 000. These should surrender 51 percent of shareholding to black Zimbabweans within five years. Those who fail to comply face up to five years in jail.

The new law may affect companies including Anglo Platinum Ltd., Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Aquarius Platinum Ltd., three of the world’s four biggest producers of the metal, which all own mines in the southern African nation. Old Mutual Plc, Africa’s biggest insurer, owns properties and a life-insurance operation in the country.

“The news is very grim,” John Robertson, a Harare-based economist, told Bloomberg. “It will effectively put a halt to any further investment in Zimbabwe, ironically just as the country is calling for investment.”

Zimbabwe has the world’s second-largest reserves of platinum and chrome, after South Africa, along with deposits of gold, coal, diamonds and nickel. The economy is recovering from a decade of recession that followed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s seizure of white-owned commercial farms to redistribute to black subsistence farmers deprived of land during colonial rule. The program slashed exports.

MDC which appears disillusioned by the progress of the new unity government, has called for fresh elections as a solution to the current political
bickering. The power sharing talks that have been going on in Harare, have progressed a slow pace with Zanu PF saying it will not make anymore concessions until MDC tell the Western countries to remove sanctions and stop exiled radio stations to operate. MDC is also fighting to have the Attorney General Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, fired among others. Radio VOP/ Bloomberg