Zimbabwe, the sleeping giant of central southern Africa, has seen its fair share of diplomatic stalemates, especially with the Western governments. President Robert Mugabe has aggressively championed the drive to empower more indigenous black Zimbabweans in a move to redress the imbalances caused during the colonial-era. A drive that is locally referred to in Zimbabwe as ‘indigenization’; the Mugabe administration is forcing foreign companies to sell their majority domestic stakes to black Zimbabwean investors.
This move championed by President Mugabe has seen him and his administration blacklisted from foreign investment and aid coming from Western governments. At the height of the country’s economic crisis between 2000-2008, many Big British companies left Mugabe pushed for the seizure of white-owned commercial farms in the country. This move made the relationship between Zimbabwe and her former colony, Britain become very frosty.
However, the tide could be changing if the report published last week by the British embassy is anything to go by. In the report the embassy said:
“Despite continued mixed signals, there are encouraging signs that the government is softening its stance on indigenization and developing more investor friendly policies. The policy shift offers UK companies an opportunity to increase trade and investment.”
The relationship between the President Mugabe administration and the British government has been anything but friendly. The latter accuse the former of rigging the country’s election and instigating violence for the ruling political party ZANU-PF to continue clinging on to power.
President Mugabe has been in power since the country’s independence in 1980. He accuses London of still viewing Zimbabwe as its colony and wants to maintain its influence on the country’s abundant mineral resources.
On its part, London has been championing a campaign to Western governments to withhold financial assistance to President Mugabe’s government as a protest to its indigenization policy. The effect has seen Zimbabwe’s economy hits rock bottom characterized by stagnated growth and recession.
However, the exact details of how President Mugabe’s administration has eased the indigenization policy were not elaborated by the British embassy. Other than, there was a significant shift in the country’s policy and that it could potentially increase British investments into the southern African country.
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