Zimbabwean Government to ‘clarify’ indigenisation law

Zimbabwean finance minister Patrick Chinamasa says government will clarify the indigenisation legislation to lure foreign investors needed to rebuild the economy. Foreign investors continue to give Zimbabwe a wide berth with analysts blaming the policy, which stipulates that locals should have at least 51% in all foreign-owned companies operating in Zimbabwe, as deterrent to attracting investors.

Chinamasa said while receiving a delegation from the United Kingdom that a conducive environment should be created so that investors could come and invest in the country.

“There is no investor who can come to an environment where their investments are not secure. The clarification [of the indigenisation law] is important. As far as the clarification of the indigenisation law, the investors are not saying change your law, but what they are saying is: ‘Make it clear that there should be predictability and transparency’. They are not saying change your laws to suit us,” he said.

Chinamasa said the government was working on bottlenecks to investing such as delays in the approval of investment proposals.

“We are now identifying the bottlenecks and we should be able to address them. One was brought to our attention by IDC where it took 176 days to open an investment,” he said.

The Indigenisation Act was passed into law in 2008.

The UK trade delegation, the first visit in close to 20 years, will explore opportunities in Zimbabwe. The delegation was led by Alex Lambeth of British Expertise and had Ecorys UK’s Berry Sheils, Derek Landman from Turner & Townsend, Simon Gillet (Roughton International) and Gerard McDonald from WYG International.

Chinamasa said the visit was a step towards normalisation of relations with Zimbabwe, saying it was not an event, but a process.

British ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing said the British delegation had come into the country to understand the realities of doing business in Zimbabwe.

“The promised clarification of indigenisation policy is welcome, which, if handled well, could have a major impact. The government must also show observers that rule of law is paramount, underlining this message as much in political rhetoric as in the conduct of its institutions,” Laing said.