Kasukuwere defiant on closure of foreign firms
By Taurai Mangudhla, Business Writer
HARARE – Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere says he will continue pushing for the closure of foreign firms that fail to cede majority shareholding to locals, despite fierce resistance from some of his political allies.
Kasukuwere spoke as the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development led by Obert Mpofu blocked his attempt to revoke the licence of Zimplats, 87,3 percent owned by South African Impala Platinum Holdings.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti has also criticised Kasukuwere’s implementation of the indigenisation plans while central bank governor Gideon Gono described the Zanu PF youth leader’s brazen approach as reckless.
In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, Kasukuwere remained defiant. A furious Kasukuwere said he would proceed with suspending all companies that were yet to come up with agreeable indigenisation plans.
“Whoever doesn’t want the law (Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act) must go to get it repealed in Parliament otherwise do not look for problems where there are no problems,” he said before hanging up his phone.
The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act came into effect in 2008 but is only being implemented now. This has raised fears that Mugabe could be planning to grab foreign-owned firms as an electioneering gimmick ahead of watershed elections, possibly next year.
Industry, on the other hand, has raised concern that Kasukuwere is bulldozing through the empowerment process without the consent of various ministers. Other cabinet ministers argue that the implementation approach should pay attention to respective sectoral needs.
Various ministries and stakeholders have suggested a systematic approach, but an adamant Kasukuwere maintains that he is the sole individual mandated by the 87-year-old Zimbabwean leader President Robert Mugabe to administer implementation of the controversial law.
Jameson Timba, Minister of State in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office, yesterday said he was opposed to Kasukuwere’s coercive approach to the empowerment exercise.
“Some of us do not support the idea that governing should be done through threatening to withdraw the licences of all companies that fail to comply with policies,” he said, adding that dialogue and consensus were crucial for development.
Similarly, Biti recently sided with Gono on the need for government to create conducive policies and measures for indigenising “delicate” foreign banks. Such an approach, Biti and Gono argue, will avert possible catastrophe in the financial services sector and the entire economy.
“One thing we have made very clear is that banks are different from mines because mines sit on capital whilst banks are conveyors, which means that they depend on their depositor base. A bank is as good as its deposits,” Biti said.
The Chamber of Mines has proposed to give 26 percent to indigenous Zimbabweans instead of the minimum 51 percent. Daily News