Mutambara slams UK envoy on indigenization

The new UK ambassador to Zimbabwe this week attacked as a "disincentive" a drive by President Robert Mugabe's party to force foreign-owned companies to cede 51% shareholding to local black businessmen.

Arthur Mutambara
Arthur Mutambara

Deborah Bronnert told Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara that the empowerment drive was scaring off investment seriously needed to revive the shattered economy.

In an unusually fierce attack on policy by the former colonial master, Bronnert told Mutambara that Zanu (PF)’s black empowerment drive, headed by indigenization Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, had created uncertainty and would hurt efforts to fix the economy.

She said Britain supported "constructive and progressive" empowerment – not the current model.

Mutambara reacted strongly to the Ambassador's sharp rebuke, and told her that Britain had no right to criticise the empowerment drive.

"Britain will continue to be disqualified from commenting about our empowerment programme until the sanctions are lifted. Sanctions must go," Mutambara railed.

On the issue of the EU’s "restrictive measures", the Ambassador noted that the EU High Representative Cathy Ashton had said that the measures would be kept under review as long as there was concrete progress in the implementation of the GPA leading to credible elections. Thirty five individuals were removed from the list of measures in February 2011.

Bronnert, who has also paid a courtesy call on President Mugabe, Vice President Joice Mujuru and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, said Britain was interested in helping Zimbabwe. She said bilateral trade between the UK and Zimbabwe had increased by 85 percent, during the first five months of 2011 against the comparative period last year.

The United Kingdom last month handed support of $130 million to ordinary Zimbabweans, its largest donation ever. The support was channelled through the Department for International Development to reach millions of Zimbabweans, particularly women and children.

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