ZIMBABWEAN Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday voiced support for his country’s controversial indigenisation policy, which stipulates that locals should own at least 51% of the shares in foreign companies.
“Indigenisation is not about expropriation or nationalisation … it’s about setting fair value,” he said at a debate at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town .
It was the first time Zimbabwe’s opposition leader made clear he was in favour of the new laws, which took effect in March when foreign mining firms were given six months to sell a majority stake to local black investors.
Mining is one of the few profitable sectors in Zimbabwe and analysts warn indigenisation could curtail capital inflows.
“People have raised concerns about indigenisation,” Mr Tsvangirai told reporters. “Across the political divide we agree on the principle of citizenship empowerment.”
Mr Tsvangirai said what was important was how the new laws would be implemented. “We are trying to model a matrix that will satisfy both the investor and our desire to see people (participate more in the economy).
“We are contributing the mineral resource, you will exploit it and we will exploit it to the benefit of both of us.
“Companies want political stability and policy consistency, we have been consistent in the area of indigenisation.” Tongue in cheek, Mr Tsvangirai asked a mining panel discussion why there was no metals exchange in Africa or a cartel such as Opec. He criticised the lack of accountability in Zimbabwe’s mining sector, saying that the fiscus had only received a few dollars from the industry.
“We can’t have this …. there must be accountability for how they are dispersed to the benefits of the population.”