On the billboards, President Mnangagwa seeks to break-away from Mugabe’s past with reforms

A billboard of Zimbabwean President and the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu PF) leader Emmerson Mnangagwa stands at a highway in Harare. Some 112 parties are registered contest in the elections set for July. Photo: EPA-EFE

 

By Reuters and ANA

Zimbabwe is looking to sell shares in 35 state-owned firms, including telecoms and mining entities in the latest step to revive the economy under new political leadership, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said this week.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who came to power in November after a de-facto military coup forced Robert Mugabe to resign, has made reviving the economy his top priority. Chinamasa told reporters that Mnangagwa’s cabinet had decided the government would partially sell some shares in a range of state-owned companies, known locally as parastatals.

The ruling-Zanu(PF) election campaign is in full swing, and President Mnangagwa’s face finally appeared in colourful billboards campaigns on the hinterland. Zanu(PF) has made “Zimbabwe is open for business” catchline, and  the government wants to be seen to be on top of managing state-owned enterprises as part of the broader ecoinomic recovery blue-print.

This would be done through engaging strategic partners and floating shares on the local stock exchange. Targeted firms include mobile carriers NetOne and Telecel, fixed line operator TelOne and savings bank POSB, all owned by the state. Shares in 17 government-run mines would also be sold.

Like most parastatals, the mines, which mainly produce gold, have struggled over the years due to lack of capital and mismanagement, forcing some to close.

Chinamasa said the parastatal reform was “designed to enhance peformance, improve services delivery and to bring more order, discipline and rationality to the sector as a whole.”

Government ministries will present privatisation plans to cabinet for each entity within 100 days

Government ministries would present privatisation plans to cabinet for each entity within 100 days, Chinamasa said. Some state regulators will become government departments while others will merge to save costs and minimise bureaucracy.

The Special Economic Zones Authority will merge with three others, inlcuding the Zimbabwe Investment Authority to provide a one-stop shop for investors, Chinamasa said.

“It is the right thing to do but the government should go a step further and say ‘we are moving out altogether’ out of these companies. When government is a shareholder they are seen by investors as a source of difficulty rather than assistance,” John Robertson, a Harare-based economic analyst, said.

Meanwhile Former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is to be summoned by a committee of lawmakers in Zimbabwe to testify at a parliament probe into lost revenue from diamond mining.

The lawmakers plan to question Mugabe over his 2016 claim that the country had lost $15 billion (12.13 billion euros) in income from diamonds due to corruption and foreign exploitation. Mugabe, who was kicked out of power last year in a military takeover, has previously been accused of siphoning off Zimbabwe’s diamond profits.

“The committee resolved to call the former president to testify,” Temba Mliswa, an independent lawmaker who chairs parliament’s committee on mines and energy said.
“He was the president, and we want to know where he was getting the $15 billion figure from.”

No date has been set for the hearing and it remains uncertain if the aging former dictator, now 94, will ultimately face a grilling from lawmakers.

 

President Mnangagwa, who came to power in November after a de-facto military coup forced Robert Mugabe to resign, has made reviving the economy his top priority. Photo: EPA-EFE

 

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