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is here to stay - SAPES seminar with Minister Saviour Kasukuwere
& CZI President Kumbirai Katsande
March 18, 2010
View audio file details
As part of their
dialogue series, SAPES
Trust held a debate on indigenisation at their offices on Thursday
18 March 2010. Key presenters were Minister of Youth Development,
Indigenisation and Empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere (who put forward
the recently gazetted indigenisation
regulations), and Confederation of Zimbabwean Industries President
Kumbirai Katsande. Below we share some of the issues these speakers
addressed, and the concerns raised from the floor.
of the Indigenisation Regulations were to create an enabling environment
for previously disadvantaged Zimbabweans, fight poverty, encourage
investment, economic empowerment, skills development and the creation
of a national economy.
interested in growing new businesses, as well as strengthening existing
ones. Government does not have any hard positions per se, rather
we are open to looking at incorporating different view points. But
the indigenisation issue is firmly on the table - what is
left is for the country to support it. Government is also looking
at the Procurement Act, and how to make sure that it supports local
We have this
law. It is trying to deal with the racist spirit that is in our
businesses right now. We want to break the spirit that says I don't
want to do business with Ibbo, I'd rather deal with Mike.
I think once we exorcise ourselves of this spirit, we'll be
able to move forward. This law would not have been necessary if
everyone had been playing ball, and recognising the need to work
for the good of our country.
Yes, we took
the land. The farmers are doing very well. But when you look at
the behaviour of players in the agro-processing industry, there
is concern. Some of these businesses, their attitude toward us as
Zimbabweans - they are funding white ex-commercial farmers
who must go and contract black farm owners on the land. Why can't
you be decent enough to go and contract the farmer directly? The
Chinese have come here. They have gone directly to the farmers,
and have poured in huge amounts of money. This has helped the production
of tobacco, for example. Not to say we prefer the Chinese, but it's
about the attitudes which we display.
We have companies
that have mined here in Zimbabwe for years, but they aren't
investing anything. They are not declaring their profits. This is
what informs us as government. We need economic justice and to safeguard
the economic interests of this country.
come with a time frame - five years. There is no compulsion
in these regulations. You just have to give us your plan. If you
think you can't do it, say so. We'll have a look together.
We are just trying to address the spirit: Are you prepared to work
with Zimbabweans? We need to balance investments coming into our
country as well as the aspirations of our people. Any government
which thinks it can succeed by suppressing the desires of its people
will never succeed.
asked where we will get the money for the regulations. Assets are
still very cheap in our economy today. You could easily take 50%
of some of these companies. Are we saying that the economy has no
money? We've given ourselves five years, in which we should
be able to achieve the objectives we have set for ourselves. As
the economy picks up, people will raise resources to buy shareholding.
There is no free lunch. People will pay for shareholding.
This is the
time. We are currently under sanctions as a country, as a people.
We have to find a way to survive on our own. One way to do this
is to encourage your people to join business and start working hard.
Let's be constructive. We are ready to talk. I am available.
We are going to be buying businesses - this is no jambanja.
and Economic Empowerment is here to stay. It has cross-party political
support. When the dust has settled, we think it will be positive
for the economy. It reflects the constructive potential and character
of the Government of National Unity (GNU), and the spirit of compromise
must become a part of how we as Zimbabweans resolve differences.
We should not panic when we have differences, but we need to develop
a manner of how to deal with differences as and when they arise.
It is worrying
sometimes because we still have a tendency of dealing with important
issues from an entrenched or dogmatic perspective, which does not
help us get the best solution for the country. We need more collaborative
resolutions as opposed to antagonistic methods of trying to get
On the question
of timing, there have been two arguments - one that the economy
is still too fragile to cope with seemingly investor hostile policies.
The other is that the economy requires lots of recapitalisation,
and that should be our focus. Since the indigenisation regulations
were gazetted, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange has lost 30-40%. On the
other hand, there's been the argument that assets are very
cheap right now, and we are giving away assets. But regarding timing,
we believe that the regulations are there - we have to deal
with them and move forward.
The 51% shareholder
target has been discussed in the press as if it's a limit.
But it is actually a target. The legislation is aspirational, not
prescriptive - it does not say Shall. It says "will
How do we define
indigenisation, how is indigenous? We have some white colleagues
who have indicated that they would have thought that any Zimbabewan
born on or after April 18, 1980, and all those Zimbabweans who have
renounced other citizenships and retained Zimbabwean citizenship
should be considered indigenous. But as business, as a group, this
is not a line of thought that we are pursuing. There is the possibility
of individuals raising this in the Constitutional Court, and this
is their right.
would have been to look at how to indigenise an industry. So that
when you take a helicopter view of the Zimbabwean economy, and Mrs
Consumer, where she is spending her money, you ask where is 50,
60, 70% of her money going. If that money can be traced to indigenous
businesses, or indigenous participation in the economy, then we
think we have indigenised the economy. We think that is a useful
way of looking at it, because we have said indigenisation must contribute
to sustainable growth and development of the economy.
is under extreme pressure to change the regulations. The sense we
get is that the regulations are going to be changed quite dramatically.
This populism is there. But there is not one Zanu PF minister who
has come out in support of these regulations, not even the vice
presidents. I don't hear the war vets talking about indigenisation.
This isn't an issue ordinary Zimbabweans are prioritising.
So the Minister has been under a lot of pressure to say this is
not helping the party whatsoever. And I am told that he has been
told by very senior people that this is not the right thing to do,
and that the timing is not right. So for him it's to say how
to put something together that has some respectability. This is
why we have always been excited about the unity government as business
- for all of its weaknesses, what is the alternative. It gives
us space for the private sector.
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