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UK investors, Zim minister fall out

14 February 2015, 08:19

Harare - British investors visiting Zimbabwe had "unpleasant disagreements" with a minister in President Robert Mugabe's government after some of them tried to ask who would succeed the 90-year-old leader, the minister told state TV on Friday.

Ignatius Chombo, the local government minister, told the 19-strong delegation that who Zimbabweans vote for was none of the visitors' business.

"We... had some little unpleasant disagreements when they wanted to refer to the succession in our own country," Chombo said in comments carried on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation's evening news bulletin.

"So I told them that who we vote for in Zimbabwe is our business and not their business."

Mugabe's government has been pinning its hopes on a spate of recent visits by potential foreign investors to bring cash inflows and avert what threatens to be another major economic downturn.

Fragile after the 2000-2008 crisis, things are not looking good in the cash-strapped country where there are frequent reports of retrenchments. On Thursday the state-run Herald newspaper was reported to be embarking on a retrenchment exercise. The state-owned bus company has also sent 100 workers on unpaid leave.

Analysts say Zimbabwe's indigenisation policy, which compels large foreign and white-owned firms to part with majority shares to local black shareholders, is holding back investment. Last month Mugabe told a visiting French business delegation that the handover of majority shares only applies to natural resource-based sectors like mining.

Chombo told the British delegation that "it is really up to them to discuss with the relevant ministers and also the minister of indigenisation on what plans would be like for a particular investment," ZBC reported.

A Belgian business delegation is due in the country in April.



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