The Speaker of the House of Assembly Jacob Mudenda today challenged business to submit their proposed changes to the country’s indigenization law to parliament, saying lawmakers stand ready to push the executive arm of government to amend the law widely criticisced for low foreign direct investment inflows.
Zimbabwe’s central bank figures show the country registered a meagre $67 million in foreign direct investment in the first half of 2014, down from $165 million over the same period last year.
In his 2014 budget presentation, finance minister Patrick Chinamasa announced that government would treat the empowerment policy compelling foreign companies to sell controlling stakes to locals on a case-by-case basis through line ministries and that the 51/49 mix will remain aspirational but not cast in stone.
Speaking at a post-budget seminar for Members of Parliament, Mudenda said he had confidence in Parliament but could only act after issues had been brought before the august House.
“What have we put on the table to say this is how you will improve the indigenisation law to be attractive (to investors)?” he asked experts from the private sector who made presentations during the workshop.
He said the private sector should bring to Parliament their proposals on how the law, which analysts say scares away investors should be amended and not to only blame government for failing to act.
“State the inconsistencies and bring them to Parliament and Parliament will make noise. I have confidence in this Parliament,” he said.
“If Parliament starts probing as we have been doing all along, there will be movement.”
Mudenda said Parliament was also willing to push government to revive the Tripartite Negotiating Forum with labour and business in order to address the issues of the ballooning public wage bill which is expected to gobble 82 percent of the country’s $4.1billion 2015 national budget.
The three parties used to meet under the TNF, a voluntary informal platform under which they discussed socio-economic matters and resolved differences. The TNF faded as Zimbabwe’s economy collapsed, but there are calls for its revival due to the dichotomy between labour’s wage demands, falling economic activity and government policy.
“The spirit is willing in Parliament, the private sector must have the same willing spirit. It can be done,” he said.
He urged the private sector to also establish an “implementation team” and challenge government to implement the 2010 TNF resolutions in order to restore investor confidence in the country.
The speaker said one of the stumbling blocks of the social contract was the country’s labour laws which needed to be reviewed.
“Bring to Parliament your suggestions to the relevant committee and say this is how we see things from labour (perspective), these are the changes that we see and Parliament through its portfolio committee can then invite the minister and say why are you not implementing these proposals in order to create a more conducive environment,” he said.
Turning to the closure of companies, Mudenda blamed business for contributing to the demise of industry due to lack of innovation and called for the establishment of joint ventures with foreign firms to revive the economy.
According to government statistics, in 2011; 2 130 companies closed and 19 191 workers lost jobs. In 2012; 1 464 companies shut down, leaving 20 825 employees jobless. In 2013; 878 companies closed shop, rendering 14 499 jobless and so far this year, 134 firms have shut down, throwing 9 280 people onto the job market.- The Source