Tsvangirai takes on Zanu-PF about mining shares grab

2012-03-03 15:46

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai lashed out this week at President Robert Mugabe and
Zanu-PF for distorting the laws governing indigenisation.

Tsvangirai told delegates at a Zimbabwe trade and investment conference in Fourways, Johannesburg, that Zanu-PF was using the indigenisation policies, which forces foreign companies to hand over more than half of their shares to locals, irresponsibly.

“It is political rhetoric. Indigenisation becomes an instrument they use and that people listen to. There is nothing in the laws about nationalisation. But guess what – elections are coming and Zanu-PF can say to the Zimbabwean people ‘we are giving you all this money’,” Tsvangirai told the 700-strong audience.

“We have been unable to build on the momentum of the first two years of the unity government because of election talk.”

He distanced himself from the indigenisation programme, saying the MDC agreed with the principle but not with the way Zanu-PF was implementing it. South African mining company Implats was recently given a two-week deadline by the Minister of Indigenisation, Saviour Kasukwere, to come up with plans on how it would hand over 51% of its equity.

Tsvangirai confirmed that early elections were not on his radar yet.

“The inclusive government has been a frustrating experience but when President Mugabe and I call for the next elections, reforms must be in place,” he said, putting paid to reports that he was convinced by Mugabe to support the call for early elections.

Tsvangirai agreed with delegates who complained about land grabs that it was difficult to convince people to invest in Zimbabwe if their assets were not secure.

“Why would you invest in a place where your security of tenure is not guaranteed?” he asked.

“The mixed messages coming from government results in investors taking a wait-and-see approach. This is the price we are paying for a coalition government that has no shared vision or values.”

But it was clear there was painfully little the MDC, who is in joint government with Zanu-PF, could do.

Kasukwere did not attend the conference and although the programme indicated the Minister of Mines, Obert Mpofu, would attend, he failed to show up.

Tsvangirai’s response? “When you become a minister you become busy,” he told reporters.

Complaints by South African farmers were met with sympathy by the South African ambassador to Zimbabwe, former security chief Vusi Mavimbela.

But apart from sending several notes verbales – diplomatic memos delivered to government that are the strongest message an embassy can send – there was no other avenue to pursue, Mavimbela said
“We’ve done everything possible to raise the issue of compensation (for land that was stolen by government) but the reality is the Zimbabwean government does not have the money to compensate farmers at this point.”

Finance Minister Tendai Biti tried to gloss over the issue, saying the “tea and pancakes” that Tsvangirai and Mugabe shared every Monday afternoon in their weekly meeting suggested progress.

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