The Sunday News
Lincoln Towindo, Harare Bureau
Parliament resumes sitting this Tuesday, with sweeping changes to indigenisation and other commercial laws expected as authorities revamp Zimbabwe’s business environment.
Biometric Voter Registration will also be incorporated into the Electoral Act.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told our Harare Bureau that focus is on ease of doing business; and that the Companies, Estate Administrators and Insolvency bills will be tabled.
“The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act is being amended through the Finance Bill, which was gazetted by Finance Minister (Patrick) Chinamasa in 2017. All the changes he proposed in his 2018 National Budget Statement are in that Bill.
“The Electoral Amendment Act, Estate Administrators Bill and Companies Bill are already on the Order Paper (for consideration). Our main thrust is to introduce laws that facilitate ease of doing business.”
Amendments include repealing Section 3 of the Indigenisation Act, which has a wholesale 51 percent ownership requirement for all businesses worth US$500 000 and above.
Only platinum and diamond miners will be subjected to this requirement under the coming dispensation.
The National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board will be replaced by the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Unit.
The unit will monitor compliance with indigenisation laws in reserved sectors.
The Finance Bill reads, in part, “Objectives and measures in pursuance of indigenisation and economic empowerment:
“(i) The State shall, by this Act, or through regulations under this Act or any other law, secure that at least fifty-one per centum of the shares or other ownership interest of every designated extractive business, that is to say a company, entity or business involved in the extraction of –
“(a) diamonds; or (b) platinum; or (c) any other mineral or natural resource declared by the Minister by statutory instrument to be a strategic mineral or strategic natural resource; shall be owned through an appropriately designated entity (with or without the participation of a community share ownership scheme or employee share ownership scheme or trust, or both).”
Reserved sectors are those exclusively set aside for operation by indigenous Zimbabweans and include transport, retail and wholesale trade, barber shops, hairdressing and beauty salons, employment agencies, estate agencies, valet services, grain milling, bakeries, tobacco grading and packaging, advertising agencies and artisanal mining.
Foreigners presently operating in such sectors will only be required to regularise business by applying to Government, instead of relinquishing holding as is the case now.
“(1) Subject to sub-section (2), only a business owned by a person who is a citizen of Zimbabwe may operate in any sector of the economy reserved for citizens of Zimbabwe under the First Schedule.
“(2) Every business owned by a person who is not a citizen of Zimbabwe that, before the 1st January, 2018, commenced operating in any sector of the economy reserved for citizens of Zimbabwe under the First Schedule may continue to operate if —
“(a) it registers itself with all relevant authorities, including the Zimbabwe Investment Authority and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority; and (b) it opens and maintains a bank account in accordance with the Bank Use Promotion Act (Chapter 24:24)
“(3) Any person who is not a Zimbabwean citizen and who, after the 1st January, 2018, wishes to operate a business referred to in sub-section (1) shall seek the permission of the minister referred to in sub-section (9),
“Any person who is not a Zimbabwean citizen and who —
“(a) after the 28th February, 2018 fails to comply with subsection (2); or (b) after the 1st January, 2018 begins to operate a business referred to in sub-section (1) without the permission of the Minister given under sub-section (9); shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level eight or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.”