Robert Mugabe to abandon failed empowerment laws and chase investment

HARARE — Zimbabwe will make its black empowerment laws more flexible and set up a “one-stop” office to cut the time it takes to invest in the country, according to a speech tabled before parliament on Wednesday.

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President Robert Mugabe mistakenly read the wrong speech at the opening of parliament on Tuesday, vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa told legislators while tabling the correct speech.

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The incorrect one was actually a state of the nation address made three weeks ago.

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Mr Mugabe’s office blamed the incident on a “mix-up”. The state will give the state-owned Mineral Marketing Corporation powers to explore for deposits, and rename it the Mineral Exploration and Marketing Corp, according to the speech.

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Mr Mugabe’s administration was “carrying out a raft of measures to improve the business environment”, including easing company and investment procedures and establishing special economic zones that would “boost industrialisation”.

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Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis since 2008 as tight liquidity forces company closures and the government struggles to meet a wage bill that swallows 83% of the revenue it collects. The economy has shrunk by about half since 2000, while about 1.5-million Zimbabweans face some hunger after drought slashed production of maize, the nation’s staple food.

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The government will also establish a land commission to bring about “fairness and transparency” in the farming industry, according to the speech.

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Since 2000, mostly white commercial farmers have been forcibly evicted to make way for black producers, which led to a production slump and disputes over land ownership between new occupants.

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Bloomberg

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