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Mugabe: No plans to seize foreign firms

26 April 2014, 15:53

Harare - Zimbabwe's veteran President Robert Mugabe on Friday tried to assure spooked foreign investors that his indigenisation policy is not about asset seizures, softening his tone amid renewed economic troubles.

"There is no expropriation or nationalisation of shares held by non-indigenous persons," Mugabe said at the opening of country's main trade fair in Bulawayo.

Frozen out of foreign debt markets and plagued by years of political crises and international sanctions, Zimbabwe faces what the central bank has called a "severe and persistent liquidity crunch".

Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms and an indigenisation law introduced in 2010 that forced foreign companies to cede majority shares to Zimbabwean partners, led to an exodus of capital.

So far the policy has only been applied to mines, but critics say it has been a deterrent to badly needed investment.

"We would want investment from abroad," the 90-year-old leader said, adding that the controversial indigenisation policy has been "subject to misinterpretation and misrepresentation".

"We have not nationalised a single company ever since our independence," he said.

"I, therefore, invite bona fide local and foreign potential investors to come on board and seize the vast trade and investment opportunities available in the various economic sectors."

His comments are the strongest signal yet that the hard-line leader is softening an earlier vow to pursue the controversial indigenisation policy with "renewed vigour".

Earlier this week Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the government was drawing up a "comprehensive plan which will handle this [indigenisation] issue sector by sector".

Mugabe vowed his government will fight to mend the economy despite hardships including high unemployment, company closures and a liquidity crunch.



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