YOUTH, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister Francis Nhema on Wednesday defended the indigenisation law insisting there was no need to change anything in the legislation.
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He said it was perceptions about the country that needed to change.
Nhema had appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs chaired by MP for Chipinge South Enock Porusingazi (Zanu PF) to clear the notion that the country’s indigenisation laws were deterrent to potential investors.
Porusingazi said in prior meetings by the committee with the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) and Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA), the committee was told the indigenisation laws were not consistent and deterred investors.
But Nhema said he had found nothing wrong with the law, but that the problem was interpretation where some people distorted it and made conflicting pronouncements.
“I have discussed with CZI and ZIA and said when an investor comes they are interested in the principle of the law and its consistency – and the issue is not about the 51% indigenisation requirement, but it is about that when an investor makes his decision he has to be sure that the arrangements have to stick and the next person (minister) would not come and change the laws,” Nhema said.
“What we have to do is to change the mindset of Zimbabweans to ensure when investors come they are comfortable and they understand the law.”
Nhema also said the requirements to cede 51% can be negotiable depending on the extent of the investment.
“On non-natural resources – assuming an investor wants to set up a hydro-electric plant costing billions of dollars and the law says 51%, we look at the impact of the project and that it is going to empower the country in a big way and we do not become worried about the 51%. All I am saying is that there is no one-size-fits-all in application of the indigenisation law.
“I will insist that the community should benefit (minimum 10% to community share ownership trusts), and about 5% to 10% shares should go to workers themselves, as well as that the company should put money towards vocational training centres. No serious investor will say 51% shares to 14 million people is unfair. In Norway where there is oil the laws say 70%.”