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Companies urged to empower communities

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MINES and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu says foreign-owned companies should go beyond merely complying with the requirements of the indigenisation and empowerment regulations by offering contracts to locals in order to benefit downstream industries.

Report by Mernat Mafirakurewa Acting Business Editor

Speaking during the launch of the Pretoria Portland Cement Community (PPC) Share Ownership Trust in Harare on Monday, Mpofu urged companies to empower surrounding communities.

“PPC, with all the good work that you have done, when it comes to issues of contracts and procurement, you also, perhaps, change the current mindset,” he said.

“Empowerment is not only about ownership, it is about change of mindset.

“We need to follow that with real issues that empower people on a daily basis.

“Empowerment is not about rural council, it’s not about workers, it’s about involving people surrounding you in all sorts of activities.

“When you advertise tenders for contracts, just make sure you start with the people that are around you.”

Mpofu said it was worrying that other companies, including brickmaking entity Macdonald Bricks, had been quiet about their operations.

“We have companies like Macdonald Bricks, but we have not yet heard about their intervention so we are saying they should start identifying with the area, otherwise we would actually persuade them to do what PPC has done,” he said.

He said Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono has on numerous occasions advocated for the supply-chain based approach to empowerment as a way of ensuring that the majority of Zimbabweans benefit.

According to Gono’s strategy, the government could with immediate effect institute a supply-chain empowerment strategy by putting in place explicit procurement policies to ensure that predominantly government departments and public enterprises outsource or buy their inputs from indigenous suppliers.

He argued that the supply of raw materials and other critical inputs would immediately empower Zimbabweans by smoothening the ownership of the means of production and mainstreaming previously disadvantaged indigenous people into active participation in economy building.

“This empowerment strategy ensures that indigenous people realise immediate benefits through receipts from guaranteed supply of goods and services to companies as opposed to waiting for annual dividend payments, which are contingent upon the companies making profits and declaring such dividends to shareholders,” said Gono in a strategy paper early this year.

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