HomePoliticsMugabe sends nephew for demolition job

Mugabe sends nephew for demolition job

As he walks into his ministerial boardroom for a press conference, Patrick Zhuwao, the new Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister, puts on a confident face.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

He walks like a king or a new sheriff in town ready to take the black empowerment agenda to another level.

Whether the agenda is for economic development or not, to him it does not matter. All that matters is that it’s a mandate given to him by his uncle, President Robert Mugabe to execute with diligence.

His welcome remarks to the media spoke of a proud and satisfied minister, but his thrust has been widely blamed for the current economic crisis bedevilling the country.

PATRICK-ZHUWAO

Zhuwao says the black empowerment law, which seeks to compel foreign-owned firms to cede 51% of their stake to locals, will be implemented and come 2018, almost all large firms will be indigenised.

“A law is a law, we will not negotiate and I have no mandate to change that. Let’s be clear. This will be implemented at all cost,” he thunders as he announces that firms not willing to comply with the law were in for a high jump.

The “new sheriff in town”, who seems to be enjoying his newfound station in life, told journalists that he was now living a luxurious ministerial life.

Zhuwao is enjoying all the benefits that come with the post, among them top-of-the-range vehicles, a chauffeur and 24-hour security at his office and residence.

As he starts to talk, Zhuwao misses no opportunity to tell the world that he is on a mission assigned by his uncle; to drive the economic agenda to indigenise the economy at whatever cost.

Critics believe the minister’s stance would be a final blow to the economy. But he appears to enjoy the limelight Mugabe thrust him into in last month’s Cabinet reshuffle.

“I am enjoying this life. I no longer have to open the door to my car, although I want to.

“Whenever I want to get out of the car, I now just wait for someone to open the door for me after checking that everything is clear,” he said as he boasted about his new life.

“If you look at my step, there is a spring to it. I walk with confidence.”

But his actions will come with a cost to foreign companies operating in Zimbabwe, who for the past two years, have been spared from being bombarded with indigenisation threats.

Already, Zhuwao has warned all foreign-owned firms that they have to cede majority stakes to locals, or pay 10% of their gross income — whether they make a profit or not — to the new empowerment levy which he has vowed to establish by year end.

“Let’s be clear, indigenisation requires that all entities be at least 51% black-owned.

“The longer they take to comply, the more money we will have to fund the empowerment fund through the empowerment levy.”

He is using a carrot-and-stick approach and there is a feeling that he may be out to prove a point to Mugabe: that he is a competent minister that can be relied upon to deliver, especially as positioning for the succession of his uncle intensifies.

There have been apprehension regarding the implementation of the policy, but Zhuwao is not mincing his words.

He wants all foreign companies to comply or face a 10% levy in 2016 which will increase to 12,5% in 2017.

From the levy, Zhuwao says he will collect $93 million — money that could be vital for Zanu PF’s campaign come 2018 as he says it will be distributed to rural youths through community share ownership schemes for empowerment projects.

Linked to a faction in Zanu PF named Generation 40 that allegedly has in its ranks Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, energetic Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo, Zhuwao could be out to make a statement, that the young Turks can drive the economic agenda for Zimbabwe.

Just like his ally, Kasukuwere, who once served in that portfolio and gave foreign firms a torrid time, Zhuwao wants to leave an indelible mark.

“I can tell you that come 2018 when my term of office expires, all foreign-owned firms will be indigenised. I will put my head on the block for this,” he said.

To show that he is serious, he even dared revive the Zanu PF promise to create 2,2 million jobs despite the glaring economic crisis that has seen almost 5 000 companies closing and 22 000 people losing their jobs within a month.

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