ZIMBABWE

Foreign firms must surrender shares to Zimbabweans - Mugabe

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 5:02am
AFP

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Opening a new session of parliament after disputed elections in July, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe vowed to press ahead with an empowerment drive to force foreign firms to surrender majority shares to local partners.

"The indigenisation programme is to be pursued with renewed vigour," Mugabe said.

He vowed to make Zimbabweans "significant stakeholders and not mere bystanders to the running of the national economy".

The controversial indigenisation law was first implemented in 2010, forcing foreign companies to cede 51 per cent shares to Zimbabwean partners. The law has so far been applied to mines. Retailers are next in line.

Critics say the law will benefit Mugabe's allies and scare away foreign investment at a time when the country is grappling with massive joblessness.

Mugabe, 89 and in power since 1980, won another five-year term in elections on July 31 which were dismissed by his main rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, as a fraud.

Opposition lawmakers boycotted the opening of parliament by the veteran president.

"We stand ready to work with even those who before were at odds with us," Mugabe said.

In Brussels, the European Union agreed to lift sanctions on diamond-mining firm Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) despite concerns over alleged poll fraud.

EU governments have carried out a review of inclusion in the EU sanctions list "and begun the process of delisting ZMDC".

The decision gives a boost to Mugabe, whose ZANU-PF party calls EU sanctions illegal, and will allow the mining firm to sell its diamonds in Europe, potentially raising its revenues.