Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Zimbabwe News Update: President Mugabe Invited to G-15 Summit

President invited to G-15 Summit

Herald Reporter

A SPECIAL envoy from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday delivered a special invitation to President Mugabe from the leader of the Islamic Republic to attend the G-15 Summit scheduled for Teheran from May 17 to 19.

Mr Mohammad Abbasi, who is Iran’s Minister of Co-operatives, delivered the invitation to President Mugabe at his Munhumutapa Offices yesterday.

President Ahmadinejad is expected in Zimbabwe tomorrow to officially open the 51st edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.

Speaking soon after delivering the invitation, Mr Abbasi said the G-15 was an initiative to improve relations between developing countries.

"I was here to present an invitation for the G-15 Summit to be held in Iran. It is there to improve South-South relations," he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the G-15 was an important link for the development of members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

"The G-15 is one of the most important groups to look after the economic and developmental aspects of the NAM.

"The initiative, which has been taken by Iran, is important in relations of South-South co-operation," he said.

Minister Mumbengegwi said there was also need to establish South-South media agencies to report news from developing countries’ perspectives.

"Airwaves are dominated by Western agencies.

"There is need to cover situations from the perspective of developing countries," Minister Mumbengegwi said

The G-15 is a group of developing countries established at the ninth NAM Summit in 1989 with a common vision to foster growth and development among members.

It promotes North-South dialogue and is currently made up of 17 members drawn from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Govt extends indigenisation deadline

Herald Reporter

Government has extended by another month the deadline for submitting indigenisation plans for companies that failed to do so by April 15, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasuku-were has said.

Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Minister Kasukuwere said the move was meant to give more time for firms to consult.

He dismissed reports that the indigenisation law had been repealed.

"Government at its Cabinet seating last week acknowledged the pressures faced by reporting companies in meeting the deadline. It has to be appreciated that a good number of the companies, which are affected by this law are domiciled abroad and have intricate shareholding structures, which make their decision-making process drawn out.

"In recognition of this reality, Government decided last week to extend the deadline in the regulations by another month to May 15 2010," Minister Kasukuwere said.

He said the Government had also looked at some of the concerns raised by companies on the clarity of the regulations.

He said some of the concerns related to interpretation of the word "cede" in relation to shareholding, which was misconstrued to suggest compulsory takeover without compensation.

"The indigenisation programme is based on fair transaction where full value is compensated for. In that context, the word cede merely refers to the compulsion to comply with 51/49 percentage
shareholding but within a business transaction.

"There are strategic sectors, particularly those to do with non-renewable resources, where the nation must share in value. In these sectors, transactions aimed at the desired shareholding are compulsory especially in the mining sector.

"Government has unanimously decided that implementation of our indigenisation policy starts with the mining sector," he said.

Minister Kasukuwere added that President Mugabe "warned against the dangers of black masks for white corporate faces".

"President Mugabe emphasised that the programme of indigenisation should not be an avenue for creating pseudo owners who are mere fronts or blacks who slide into the same shoes of exploiters and externalisers for the benefit of the metropolis."

Minister Kasukuwere said Government would implement the indigenisation law in all the said sectors.

He said Government had "noted with alarm the displacement of indigenous traders and small business people in the downtown premises, growth points and rural business centres. Those concerns will be addressed in the context of implementation of this law."

Minister Kasukuwere said if companies failed to comply with the law by May 15, his ministry would identify the companies for compulsory compliance.

"If companies don’t voluntarily submit their empowerment plans within the set deadline, my ministry will identify those companies and we will give them a form, which they have to fill within 30 days.

"If they still don’t comply, we will publish their names in the Government Gazette and that is when the legal process will kick start. The minister is empowered in terms of the law to suspend their operating licence," Minister Kasukuwere said.

The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act stipulates that indigenous Zimbabweans are entitled to 51 percent shareholding in all foreign- owned companies operating in the country whose threshold is US$500 000 within a period of five years.

Meanwhile, the National Miners’ Association of Zimbabwe, which represents small-scale miners, has lauded Government’s indigenisation and empowerment drive, saying it is the logical conclusion of the struggle for independence.

In a statement, the chairman of the association, Mr Shepherd Kapota, hailed the Government for affording locals the opportunity to exploit the country’s resources through venturing into mining.

He said the programme was a springboard for Zimbabweans to enjoy economic freedom.

"Political independence without acquiring corresponding economic muscles is hollow. Prior to independence, mining was the preserve of large conglomerates owned and controlled by foreign companies only.

"With the dawn of independence, Government opened up the mining sector to the indigenous population through the issuing of licences for both prospecting and mining," Mr Kapota said.

The association also commended Government plans to open up diamond mining.

He said such a move was was a positive step towards economic empowerment as it enabled local communities to enjoy their country’s wealth while at the same time developing them.

Mr Kapota said his organisation received a US$10 million grant from China following an agreement between the Chinese and Zimbabwean governments.

He said they were ready to equitably disburse the grant to locals so that they could start their own mining ventures.

The organisation, which has over 5 000 members countrywide, started operating in 1982 and runs two training schools in Shamva and Filabusi.

Russia keen to invest in Zim mines

Herald Reporter

RUSSIA has expressed interest in investing in Zimbabwe’s mining sector as it moves to enhance diplomatic ties.

Speaking to journalists after meeting Zanu-PF national chairman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo at the party’s headquarters in Harare yesterday, Russia’s Ambassador in Harare Professor Vladimir Shubin, who was accompanied by a delegation from his country, described Zimbabwe as a safe investment destination.

"We want to enhance economic relations between our two countries.

"I have come with officials from the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute for African Studies because we want to invest in Zimbabwe, particularly in the mining sector," said Ambassador Shubin.

He said the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe was different from what was portrayed by the Western media.

Ambassador Shubin said Zimbabwe has potential to revive its economy through agriculture.

Cde Khaya-Moyo said Zimbabwe and Russia enjoy good relations dating back to the liberation struggle.

He applauded Russia for defending Zimbabwe’s cause on land reform by blocking efforts by Britain and its allies to have the United Nations Security Council impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.

"Russia is our all-weather friend and has weathered a lot of storms on our behalf. Together with China, they have stood with us during these times and we are very grateful about that.

"We want to see closer ties between us in terms of trade.

"We want to see airlines flying between the two countries and the entire world should see that the relations between Zimbabwe and Russia remain extremely cordial," Cde Khaya-Moyo said.

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