KWEKWE — Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube has questioned the wisdom behind allocating company shares to communities through the community share ownership trusts under the ongoing indigenisation and empowerment drive.
As part of efforts to ensure foreign firms comply with the Indigenisation Act, foreign investors are required to cede 10% of their shareholding to communities they operate in.
Zimplats, Unki, Mimosa and Old Mutual have so far complied and established community trusts run by chiefs, among other community members. But Ncube believes it was not the best way to empower Zimbabweans.
“The Indigenisation Act unfortunately and regrettably, presupposes the only effective way of empowerment is by making every individual a business person by saying they are a shareholder through a community share ownership scheme,” said Ncube.
He added while it was important and necessary to put in place mechanisms that would empower the previously disadvantaged black majority, the Industry minister felt the Zanu PF approach was wrong and misplaced.
“Yes, it’s good to have these schemes. For example in Ngezi to say to people they are now 10% shareholders, when many of them really need a secure job with a salary that allows them to put food on their table and send their children to school (is not adequate).
“They do not need to be made business people so that they worry about their shareholding,” said Ncube.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office, Jameson Timba, also believed the indigenisation policy had no value in the empowerment of individuals.
Timba in a Facebook posting at the weekend suggested the government should put in place a concessional loan fund that could be termed an “affirmative action enterprise development fund”.
He argued through the fund a large number of Zimbabweans could benefit as they would be able to set up their own businesses.