The implementation of the government’s indigenisation programme suffered a setback on Monday after top civil servants opposed to the controversial policy snubbed a meeting to establish a provincial committee to spearhead the initiative.
The envisaged committee would have comprised officials from key government ministries and departments in Mashonaland West.
It would be tasked with identifying foreign-owned companies that would be compelled to cede 10% equity towards the Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT).
Representatives from various ministries and departments boycotted the meeting, which was called by Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
The CSOT has been labelled a Zanu PF trump card ahead of elections expected next year.
Most senior officials sent their deputies to the meeting, which Kasukuwere himself and Mashonaland West governor Faber Chidarikire also failed to attend.
“My superior sent me here to cover for him, but the truth of the matter is that he is contemptuous of the indigenisation programme, which is coercive and is scaring away investors,” said an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
But the ministry’s provincial head Edias Mavune told the small gathering that government would not renege on its promise to give communities 10% of shares in foreign-owned companies.
“Although we cannot constitute the provincial committee today, we are definitely going ahead in future so that shares in mines and other big companies are allocated to indigenous Zimbabweans,” he said.
Last month, President Robert Mugabe launched the first CSOT covering Mhondoro-Ngezi, Chegutu and his home area Zvimba.
Giant platinum miner Zimplats gave the trust $10 million for development projects, but President Mugabe described the amount as “peanuts”.
MDC-T is opposed to the scheme, labelling it a Zanu PF populist initiative.