New Zimbabwe (London)

5 May 2014

Zimbabwe: Chinamasa Appeals for Foreign Investment

FINANCE Minister Patrick Chinamasa has urged foreign investors to consider doing business with Zimbabwe, assuring them that "no one would take 51% of their money".

Chinamasa was referring to the country's empowerment programme under which foreign companies must, by law, localise control and ownership of at least 51 percent of their Zimbabwe operations.

Critics say Zimbabwe is losing out on much-needed foreign investment due to concerns over the policy.

The programme was implemented in the mining sector under the last coalition government but a bid to tackle foreign-owned banks led to clashes between former empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Gideon Gono who headed the central bank.

Lately, Harare has signalled a change of attitude with officials saying there would be no one-size-fits-all approach to implementation of the policy.

On Monday, Chinamasa said the government would welcome foreign capital in the banking sector.

He was speaking in Harare at the two-day conference organised by SAPES which is running under the topic, Enabling Environment, Consolidating Constitutional Reforms and Strengthening National Institutions.

"Indigenisation Minister Francis Nhema will put a proposal to the country's cabinet, sector by sector, and government is quite comfortable with the injection of foreign capital in the banking sector because it will increase the volume of credit to the productive sector," he said.

"We are (also) inviting investment in water, power generation, road, railway network, irrigation infrastructure, information and communication technology and the government will invite operators through built, operator transfer skills.

"The government is committed to assisting in reforming and building the public service capacity not least improvement in service delivery in all sectors effective and quick decision making and the eradication of self defeating red tape and corruption."

The government is struggling to fire an economy battered by a decade-long recession with opposition groups warning that the ruling Zanu PF party was out of its depth.

Chinamasa has been the target of some of the criticism but officials have dismissed as mischievous claims he could be the target of a possible Cabinet reshuffle.

Vice President Joice Mujuru also backed the treasury chief during party rallies at the weekend.

"There are a lot of people saying our Finance Minister is not good enough," Mujuru told Zanu PF supporters in Marondera on Saturday.

"Some say, 'How can a lawyer be the Finance Minister? (President) Mugabe is only taking his cronies'. What I can tell you today is we are fully behind him and we will support him."

Chinamasa, meanwhile, blamed the country's continuing economic problems on sanctions imposed by western countries.

He said: "While other economies in Africa and across the globe have experienced record remarkable and rapid economic growth due to their access to international capital, investments and markets, Zimbabwe has remained largely closed due to sanctions and such related consequences that impacted negatively and exacerbate the country's economic malaise."

The minister made clear Harare was committed to re-engaging with the West but said there was need for countries which imposed sanctions on the country to "honestly reciprocate" the government's efforts.

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