French delegation gets assurance



Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday met a high-powered French business delegation at State House in Harare where he clarified the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment regulations.

The 12-member delegation was led by Mr Gerald Wolf and represents 10 big French companies.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa also attended the meeting.

In an interview soon after meeting President Mugabe, Mr Wolf said they got assurance from the Head of State about their investment.

“Our concern has been to get a guarantee on our investment. We are going for a long-term partnership. It means with the process of indigenisation, we got assurance from the President on our investment. This is good news for us,” said Mr Wolf.

Sources who attended the hour-long closed door meeting said the French delegation indicated it was not concerned with the indigenisation policy but its comprehension.

President Mugabe explained that the 51/ 49 percent shareholding threshold in favour of locals applied to resource-based sectors like minerals while other sectors of the economy foreign investors were free to identify local partners and negotiate shareholding threshold.

“The French delegation was quite impressed by President Mugabe’s clarification,” said the source.

Minister Chinamasa said they explained to the business delegation that the indigenisation law was not a rigid policy particularly on areas that had nothing to do with the country’s resources.

“If you are investing long-term you need to know what will happen in the next ten years. Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act is not a one size fits all,” he said.

He said Government was committed to have policies that were consistent and predictable as evidenced by the way they were implementing the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.

He repeated that the 51 /49 percent threshold would only apply to resource- based sectors while other sectors negotiations would be done on how locals could participate.

France ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Laurent Delahousse said his country was committed to improve bilateral relations between Harare and Paris both economically and politically.

He said sanctions imposed by the European Union on Zimbabwe meant that relations were not good hence the need to normalise them.

“We want to be part of normalisation of relations. When we have sanctions, it is an abnormal relationship,” he said.

Briefing President Mugabe earlier on, Mr Delahousse said the business delegation were from 10 companies from France with a combined Gross Domestic Product of almost US billion.

He said the delegation represented companies that employed more than 500 000 people and were an integral component of the French economy.

The business delegation will be exploring areas of investment in satellite communication, mining, agriculture, infrastructure development, among others.