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MDC MPs in parliamentary walk-out in protest at racist bill
Henry Makiwa, SW Radio Africa
September 27, 2007

Members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change on Wednesday night walked out of parliament in protest at the racially biased Indigenisation and Empowerment bill, as Zanu PF MP's pushed the bill through parliament.

The goal of the controversial bill is to ensure at least a 51% shareholding for indigenous black people in the majority of businesses - including the rich banking and mining sector.

Through a heated session late Wednesday night, the opposition opposed the bill in its entirety, labelling it "racist" and accusing the ruling party of plotting to loot the national coffers through the planned legislation.

Massive disputes ensued culminating in the opposition walking out. Arguments started when Harare North MP Trudy Stevenson, Dzivaresekwa legislator Mr Edwin Mushoriwa and Kambuzuma legislator Mr Willias Madzimure opposed a section of the Bill which defined "indigenous Zimbabweans".

The opposition legislators maintained that the section was racist, unconstitutional and not consistent with international conventions Zimbabwe had signed upholding equality of all people regardless of race.

The ruling party's MPs however remained adamant that the bill would benefit the majority of the black populace and pushed it through for enactment by Robert Mugabe, because of their superiority in numbers in parliament.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa, said the opposition accused the ruling party of creating lawful grounds for its leaders to loot national resources if the planned legislation is enacted.

Chamisa said: "We opposed every clause of that bill because it is clearly for the benefit of Mugabe and his Zanu PF cronies. They are setting the stage for themselves to loot the national coffers under the guise of empowering the common people.

"For us to walk out was a statement of divorcing ourselves from a ploy to loot the country unjustly. So Zanu PF remains alone in passing the bill and will be held responsible for its parasitic approach at munching everything good in its way. The most unfortunate thing however is that this new development further shuns investors away when we badly need them."

The planned legislation also provides for the establishment of an empowerment fund which will offer assistance to the "financing of share acquisitions" from the public-owned firms or assist in "management buy-ins and buy-outs.

The Bill will affect a number of foreign owned companies, including the world's two largest platinum producers and there are fears that it will signal the death knell for the country's economy.

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