Harare signs twinning arrangement with Korean city, mayor touts investment potential

Harare signs twinning arrangement with Korean city, mayor touts investment potential

HARARE, July 20 (The Source) – The City of Harare on Wednesday signed a twinning agreement with the South Korean city of Cheonan, which it said presents attractive investment opportunities.

The two cities already enjoy a working relationship and Koo Bon Young, the mayor of Cheonan — a major transportation hub in South Korea — is in Harare leading a delegation which is exploring investment opportunities and areas of further cooperation.

But the Koreans have concerns over Zimbabwe’s 2008 local ownership laws, which require that foreign owned companies valued at over $500,000 to cede 51 percent to black locals, Harare mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni told The Source after the signing ceremony.

“Our government should be able to accommodate these special investment opportunities for the good of the country. We are ready to engage government where the rules can be moderated and concessions granted,” said Manyenyeni.

“Without compromising what we stand for, we must be flexible when such opportunities present themselves.”

Analysts have long criticised the indigenisation policy, saying it has deterred the foreign direct investment Zimbabwe needs for its economic recovery. Conflicting policy pronouncements by officials, including Mugabe himself and government ministers, have not helped the situation, critics say.

In April this year, President Robert Mugabe released a statement acknowledging the confusion created by conflicting positions by his officials on the indigenisation policy. He said the government could amend the law to reflect a new relaxed position in mining and finance.

Existing foreign-owned mines could maintain current shareholding on condition they keep upwards of 75 percent of their earnings in the country. Banks could gain exemption from local ownership rules if they supported key economic sectors, Mugabe said.