ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa [profile] on Thursday announced amendments to the nation’s foreign investor law in an effort to stimulate Zimbabwe’s stagnant economy. The ambiguously-worded Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill of 2007 required all foreign companies to transfer majority ownership into the hands of Zimbabwean citizens. Some feel that President Robert Mugabe’s [profile] plan to force power into the hands of Zimbabwe’s citizens has soured, as other reforms such as land redistribution have largely failed as well. The new amendments loosen the investment requirement, allowing foreign entities to hold majority stock in businesses for up to five years, with an exception of up to 20 years in the energy sector. The amendments have not been well received by everyone in government, however, as Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Patrick Zhuwao decried foreign investment as being solely interested in exploiting the nation’s natural resources.
Mugabe’s presidency has received criticism in other areas as well. In April, the EU General Court upheld sanctions placed on individuals and companies in Zimbabwe, first imposed in 2002, as a result of the EU’s concerns regarding pre-election violence and “serious infringements of human rights” committed by the government of Zimbabwe. In January Amnesty International urged [JURIST report] Mugabe to address human rights concerns in Zimbabwe and other parts of the African continent. Also in January Zimbabwe’s High Court ordered [JURIST report] an immediate halt to the demolition of the homes of farmers who were evicted to clear space for a game park envisioned by First Lady Grace Mugabe. In September 2013 the high court ordered the release of 21 activist members of the opposition party that had been detained for over two years.