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Zimbabwe’s Parliament Debate Bill to Nationalize Foreign-Owned Companies


Zimbabwe’s parliament will Wednesday continue debating a proposal, which would give President Robert Mugabe the mandate to localize foreign-owned companies. It also allows parliament to elect a new president if a vacancy occurs between elections. Some political analysts believe the proposal would be passed since the ruling ZANU-PF party holds a two-thirds majority in parliament, which enables it to pass bills without the support of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Analysts say the proposal, if passed, would strengthen President Mugabe’s grip on power ahead of next year’s elections in which he is expected to seek a second five-year term.

Eliphas Mukonoweshuro is the International Affairs Secretary of the opposition MDC. From the capital, Harare he tells reporter Peter Clottey that foreign-owned companies are not to blame for Zimbabwe’s economic crisis.

“In the first place, we believe that the localization of foreign assets is a false start because there is no company which would want to subscribe to that and continue operating in Zimbabwe. They have to demonstrate how the foreign companies are sabotaging the local economy. The local economy is being sabotaged by ZANU-PF polices; we are not producing, we are not selling. The current problem is to do with foreign currency, and that can only come out of the productive nature of the Zimbabwean economy, which is not happening at the moment,” he said.

Mukonoweshuro said the main opposition party has always been a major proponent of Zimbabweans solving their own problems.

“The MDC has been on this path for a long time. We have always said, that Zimbabweans must sit down around the table and chart a path for their country. So it’s not something new. We have been saying that since the year 2000. But for Mr. Mbeki to say that Zimbabweans must sit around the table on their own is an indication that he forgets about the history of his own country. South Africans did not sit down around the table on their own. They were shepherded into doing so by international opinion and international pressure. So for him to think that two naked forces can on their own sit around the table without a genuine process of mediation, I think that is an indication that he doesn’t understand what he himself and his party have gone through,” Mukonoweshuro pointed out.

He said South African President Thabo Mbeki’s pronouncement at the just ended Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit is questionable.

“What we are saying is that if Mr. Mbeki is of the opinion that Zimbabweans must sit around the negotiating table on their own without a buffer zone, then perhaps he is not the right person to do so. South Africa must not regard itself as a bullyboy in the region. Perhaps we are reaching a stage, now whereby the initiative by SADC must be broadened to bring in more SADC countries to be in the position of mediators,” he said.