SOME foreign-owned private companies operating in Zimbabwe have dispelled the notion doing business in the country was impossible for external investors owing to indigenisation laws.
Speaking at an investment and business forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, in July, the companies dispelled sentiment that Zimbabwe’s laws aimed at empowering locals, which some have criticised, were prohibitive.
Several multinational companies, among them as Huawei Technologies, Pick n’ Pay, Anglo-American Corporation (AAC), Shoprite, PPC Cement, Sage Technologies, SAP and banks such as Barclays, and Standard Chartered Bank are established businesses in Zimbabwe.
Another such firm is Caledonia Mining, a Canadian firm that operates Blanket Mine in Gwanda, Matabeleland South. It was among the first companies to comply with the laws that compel foreign-owned firms to cede a majority stake to indigenous Zimbabweans.
“We are an example of a growing business going around, telling the world how peaceful Zimbabwe is. Our company is listed in Toronto, Canada, but we complied with the local indiginisation law yet we keep recording growth,” Curtis said.
He said Blanket Mine ceded 51% of its shares to locals without this threatening its operations and expansion projects.
Ignorance big issue
“I believe ignorance is the biggest issue here because many people don’t know the truth. But there are challenges in Zimbabwe such as infrastructure and power shortages,” Curtis said.
Another international company in Zimbabwe is ABB, the power and automation technology firm, whose Managing Director, Leon Viljoen, said he was not worried his company would be seized, saying that the major challenge they faced there was power outages.
“ABB employs 600 Zimbabweans on full-time basis but the main challenge is power shortage,” he said.
The companies’ sentiments regarding the indigenisation laws follows concern such legislation was having a negative impact on Zimbabwe’s drive to attract foreign investors.
Enacted in 2008, the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act requires foreign-owned companies to give a majority stake to indigenous Zimbabweans for purposes of empowerment.