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Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Patrick Zhuwao yesterday admitted to bungling on the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment (IEE) Act, saying he could have misinterpreted certain issues.Minister Zhuwao said President Mugabe’s interpretation of the Act was “perfect” and final.
He made the admission of error at a Press conference at his office after the launch of Zimbabwe Youth Empowerment Investment Committees’ Zero Draft Overview. “I am appointed by the President and as l take directions, it is quite possible that l can misinterpret certain things. I must be able to listen to my boss when my boss explains that l am misinterpreting certain things,” he said.
President Mugabe a fortnight ago moved in to clarify the confusion over the interpretation of the indigenisation law, which he said undermined business confidence in the country. Cde Zhuwao said the resultant confusion had increased the cost of doing business while weakening the country’s competitiveness in the wake of a public spat between Cabinet ministers.
Minister Zhuwao had attacked his Finance and Economic Development counterpart Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Reserve Bank governor Dr John Mangudya for asserting that the financial services sector had met the indigenisation requirement ahead of the March 31 deadline.
Asked about the deadlines he had issued to foreign companies to comply with the country’s indigenisation laws, Minister Zhuwao said: “The pronouncement by the President has helped significantly. That is also clarified in the statement,” he said.
Asked to comment on the war of words between him and former chairperson of the recently formed steering committee on the Zimbabwe Youth Empowerment Strategy for Investment, Mr Acie Lumumba, Minister Zhuwao said the reason for Lumumba’s ouster was based on a conflict of interest between his job description and a private company he owned.
He however, said he had not fully investigated Mr Lumumba’s allegations on social media and that if he had known that there was a potential conflict, he could not have appointed him. Mr Lumumba, in a recorded video which has gone viral on social media, said Minister Zhuwao was not fit to hold any public office.
In the video, he alleges that their conflict arose after Minister Zhuwao gave him an ultimatum in front of ministry officials last week to deliver three percent of shares from Old Mutual funds to his office.
“I don’t spend too much time looking at those allegations because l primarily believe in terms of section 61 of the Constitution, which says everybody has a right of expression and freedom of the media. I am not going to focus on that because l am an appointed Minister of Government, and l have a specific responsibility that l must focus on,” said Minister Zhuwao.
He also said that Mr Lumumba’s allegations were ‘false’: “l absolutely have no idea what triggered him to say that. I wish I was a prophet. If there is any impropriety, he must report me to the authorities and I am investigated if there is anything l did wrong. You must never threaten to be a person of integrity. It is something you can never threaten. He has an obligation as a citizen to reveal more,” he said. Nyemudzai Kakore Herald.