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Mugabe vows to press ahead with empowerment program

 
 
 
 
 
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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says his government will continue to press foreign firms to surrender the majority of their shares to local partners.

“The indigenization program is to be pursued with renewed vigor,” Mugabe said on Tuesday, opening a new session of parliament after the July elections.

He said the new parliament will amend laws in accordance with the country’s new constitution adopted in a referendum in March, to eradicate corruption and implement pro-poor development strategies.

The veteran president stressed the government will “mainstream the indigenization and empowerment program” in a bid to promote Zimbabweans to “significant stakeholders and not mere bystanders to the running of the national economy.”

First put into effect in 2010, the indigenization law requires foreign companies to give 51 percent shares to Zimbabwean partners. The law has so far been applied to mines with retailers next in line.

Critics voice concern that the law will scare away foreign investors from the poor African country, which remains grappling by massive unemployment and astronomical inflation rates under crippling Western sanctions.

Since 2002, sanctions have been imposed on Zimbabwe by the European Union and several Western countries for violation of human rights during presidential elections that saw Mugabe succeed.

Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980 and won another five-year term in general elections on July 31, said his government was ready to “work with even those who before were at odds with us.”

He, however, did not fail to call for “the immediate and unconditional removal of sanctions imposed by some arrogant Western countries.”

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