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