ZANU PF has made far-reaching proposals that will see foreign nationals barred from operating businesses in some sectors of the economy while allowing local citizens to participate in what the ruling party calls “grassroots empowerment”.
The populist proposals are contained in the ruling party’s revived indigenisation and economic empowerment policy document, and according to Zanu PF’s secretary of indigenisation and economic empowerment Mike Bimha, the governing party wants Zimbabweans “to take charge, we must fully participate in all the sectors”.
In the proposed policy set to be launched ahead 0f the 2023 elections, foreigners will be barred from operating in certain sectors including the lucrative artisanal gold mining and hair saloons.
In 2016, the Zanu PF government was forced to abandon the economic empowerment law that sought to transfer majority shares of foreign-owned firms to black Zimbabweans.
The softened stance adopted then was part of efforts to reassure foreign investors, who had been deterred by the law, and to clear the confusion over how government departments would implement the law.
However, Bimha, confirmed in Kwekwe, that Zanu PF was reviving the populist empowerment policy as the party garners for voters ahead of the coming elections.
Speaking to party structures in the gold-mining city of Kwekwe, Bimha said certain economic sectors would remain a preserve of Zimbabweans, as local citizens were the backbone of rebuilding the country’s economy.
“No one will come and grow this economy except ourselves. If other people come, let them come to partner with us. Let them bring the capital, let them bring the technology and transfer the technology and skills to us and partner us to grow our own economy,” he said.
The former trade minister also urged Zimbabweans to fully participate in the country’s various economic sectors.
“Through this revised policy, we are looking at all sectors of the economy. We are looking at land and agriculture, we want to look at issues to do with value addition and beneficiation.
“We want to look at the manufacturing sectors, we want to look at mining, tourism, sports and culture services. We want to take charge, we must fully participate in all the sectors.”
“In this policy, we emphasise the issue of reserved sectors, they are sectors that have been reserved for indigenous persons and the policy is saying we cannot expect a business from, as an example from France, to open a hair saloon.
“We cannot expect people to come from Asia come and be involved in artisanal mining. If they are business people bringing Foreign Direct Investment let them go into corporate mining, into big companies and we can also have shares in those companies,” he said.
He confirmed Zanu PF, in its indigenisation policy, was advocating for certain sectors to be a reserve for Zimbabweans only.
“Let us have reserved sectors for our local people. If we don’t participate they will be a vacuum and we can’t blame them (foreigners) for picking up the opportunities. When the local people don’t participate, we would have created a vacuum,” Bimha said.
“In this policy, as a party, we are saying to the government let us be part of your procurement exercise. Tell us to also procure things on behalf of the government. Let’s participate in that.”
“This policy addresses what is called grassroots empowerment. By grassroots, we expect that MPs, councillors, and leaders of the community will participate in the grassroots empowerment. Because we want to empower our own from the lowest level and include everyone.”
Zimbabwe has for over two decades earned an international pariah status because of a series of controversial laws and populist policies that have crudely attempted to reverse the imbalance of an economy traditionally controlled or dominated by the country’s white minority.
However, the controversial laws and policies have brought the country’s economy on its knees and foreign investors remain skeptical of investing in Zimbabwe. – Newzim