Zimbabwe Will Relax Empowerment Laws, Target More Investment

Updated on
  • State mineral company will start exploration, Mugabe Says
  • State-controlled Herald publishes President Mugabe's speech
Mugabe is expected to say he is "carrying out a raft of measures to improve the business environment"
Mugabe is expected to say he is "carrying out a raft of measures to improve the business environment"
Photographer: Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images

Zimbabwe will make its black empowerment laws more flexible and set up a "one-stop" office to cut the time it takes to invest in the southern African nation, according to a speech tabled before parliament on Wednesday.

President Robert Mugabe mistakenly read the wrong speech at the opening of parliament Tuesday, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa told lawmakers while tabling Mugabe’s correct speech. The incorrect one, actually a state of the nation address made three weeks ago, was withdrawn.

The government will give the state-owned Mineral Marketing Corp. powers to explore for deposits and rename it the Mineral Exploration and Marketing Corp., according to the speech. Mugabe, 91, was forced to recall Parliament Wednesday after he read the wrong address to lawmakers on Tuesday, a mistake that his office said was the result of a "mix-up."

Mugabe’s administration is "carrying out a raft of measures to improve the business environment, "including easing company and investment procedures and establishing Special Economic Zones to "boost industrialization," according to the speech.

Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst economic crisis since 2008 as tight liquidity forces company closures and the government struggles to meet a wage bill that swallows 83 percent of the revenue it collects. The size of the country’s economy has shrunk by about half since 2000, while about 1.5 million Zimbabweans face some hunger after drought slashed production of corn, the staple food.

The government will also establish a Land Commission to bring about "fairness and transparency" in the farming industry, according to the speech.

Since 2000, mostly white commercial farmers have been forcibly and sometimes violently evicted from their land and homes to make way for the settlement of black producers. The process resulted in a slump in farm production and disputes over land ownership between new occupants.