New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF Black-Lists 19 Foreign Firms

ZANU PF has listed and threatened unspecified action against 19 foreign-owned companies, including South African ones, which it says are defying the country's indigenisation laws.

In a report tabled at the party's national conference in Chinhoyi that ended on December 15, Zanu PF's department for indigenisation and economic empowerment said the 19 companies were not only noncompliant, but also defiant.

The country's Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act stipulates that all foreign-owned firms must surrender 51% of their shareholding to locals. The law requires compliance by January 1 2014, after which offenders face prosecution.

Of the 19, Standard Chartered Bank of Zimbabwe was the only financial institution. Mining companies including Metallon Gold Zimbabwe, Murowa Diamonds and Zimasco - in which the Chinese have a major stake - were listed.

South Africa's Tongaat Hulett, Pannar Seed and Pioneer Hybrid Zimbabwe are three companies in the agriculture sector that were listed.

Zimasco previously applied to be exempted from the quota requirements of the law, but its listing indicates that the government may not be entertaining its request.

The party said the companies have "refused deliberately and wilfully to comply with [the] indigenisation law". The government itself has been sending mixed messages on the law.

Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Francis Nhema had said that the indigenisation policy would not be implemented in a one-size-fits-all manner.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa has also hinted that the law could be "softened" for platinum mines that were willing to build a refinery in the country.

At the party's conference, however, President Robert Mugabe said there would be no such negotiations or exceptions and all companies should abide by the law.

Critics of Zanu PF say that the indigenisation drive is discouraging investment in Zimbabwe and, as a result, the economic situation is worsening.

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