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President assures investors, but . . .

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President Robert Mugabe yesterday assured foreign-owned firms operating in the country that their investments were safe, but warned them to abide by the country’s indigenisation laws.

President Mugabe said he expects foreign-owned firms to fully comply with the black empowerment drive which compels foreign business to cede 51% of their shareholding to black locals.

“I wish to assure investors that their investments in the country remain safe and to urge them to maintain compliance with the country’s laws,” he said at the opening session of the Fourth Parliament in Harare yesterday.

President Mugabe’s remarks come hard on the heels of a 14-day compliance ultimatum issued to foreign-owned firms by Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere.

The inclusive government is accused of sending contradictory signals with some Cabinet ministers threatening to grab foreign- owned firms.

Recently, Kasukuwere clashed with Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono after the minister threatened to cancel licences of foreign-owned banks for non-compliance.

But, Gono said Kasukuwere was not qualified to decide who gets banking licences.
Gono later described Kasukuwere’s utterances as “irrational exuberance coming from someone who did not understand banking”.

On August 19, the legal department in Kasukuwere’s ministry handed 14-day ultimatums to Standard Chartered, Barclays Bank Zimbabwe, Murowa Diamonds, Pan-American Mining, Zimplats, Blanket Gold Mine, Mimosa Holdings, Duration Gold Mine, British American Tobacco (7); Nestlé and Cargill Zimbabwe.

Kasukuwere warned companies failing to comply risked having their operating licences cancelled, their shares warehoused in a government share trust, before they would be passed on to black Zimbabweans.

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