Government nationalises fertiliser companies

HARARE - The government has announced plans to nationalise the country's three fertiliser companies. Sable Chemicals, Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company (ZFC) and Windmill are to be combined into the National Fertiliser Company and the shareholders will be paid out Z$1.3 trillion (about ᆪ10 000 - a

fraction of the market value of even one company). Observers have slated the move as ‘daylight robbery’. The government has in the past blamed fertiliser companies for failing to produce enough, but experts say it is the failure to provide foreign currency and bad governance that created the desperate shortages. For years the firms have been forced to operate at 20% of their productive capacity due to forex shortages. At times they were forced to source their own forex on the black market just to keep going. This latest move will drive the final nail into the coffin as far as foreign investment is concerned. This is the latest in a series of desperate moves to reverse the collapse of agriculture in Zimbabwe. Late last year, government announced it would compel commercial banks to lend money to newly-settled farmers without collateral. Economists predict that none of these excessive control measures will have the desired effect on the industry. – Own correspondent

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