via Govt: Nigerian billionaire not special – NewZimbabwe 4 September 2015
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s government says it will not bend its controversial indigenisation laws to enable Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote to extend his business empire into the troubled and investment-hungry country.
Africa’s richest man jetted into Harare early this week and had closed-door meetings with the presidency and some ministers.
His high profile visit, it further emerged, allowed him to finalise plans to set up potentially multi-billion dollar venture in a country deserted by foreign investors over its harsh business laws.
Dangote is plotting forays into cement, power and coal projects.
Independent reports said government had resolved to spare the tycoon from surrendering at least 51 per cent of his business to locals as is required by the law.
Desperate for foreign investment to fire a faltering economy, the government has previously said investors from friendly countries such as China would be exempt from the law.
But investment promotion minister Simon Khaya Moyo told NewZimbabwe.com Friday Dangote will not be treated any differently.
“There are laws which everybody follows in this country…there are no laws made for specific individuals,” Moyo said.
Quoting unnamed but well placed government sources, the Zimbabwe Independent Friday said government had fallen for Dangote’s wealth and had pledged to relax its empowerment laws to allow him to pour his billions into the economy.
The Zanu PF-led government is battling to revive a comatose economy weighed down by years of mismanagement and corruption.
Asked if government wold protect Dangote’s businesses from political interference, Moyo insisted the country’s business environment was safe.
“Do you think somebody can come to invest when he knows his investment is not safe?” said the former Zanu PF national chair.
“We are not talking about individuals, we are talking about a country; we are talking of laws affecting everybody; everybody’s investment is guaranteed in this country.”
Political observers say President Mugabe was keen to use the opportunity brought by the world’s richest black man to convince detractors his regime did not intend to grab foreign investments.
Dangota, so they say, has the entire world’s attention on him and would likely bring a positive picture to Zimbabwe, a country condemned for trampling on property rights.