Mugabe: Zimbabwe to soften controversial foreign company law

image sourceAP
image captionMr Mugabe says the law offers redress for the colonial era

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has announced plans to water down a contentious law obliging foreign companies to hand over most of their shares to black Zimbabweans.

The "indigenisation law" has been blamed for choking off investment.

It has never been fully implemented and Mr Mugabe has previously said many sectors of the economy are exempt.

But it has been widely criticised, including by the IMF, for contributing to the collapse of the economy.

In March, Zimbabwe threatened to close all companies that failed to comply with the legislation, which was passed in 2008, before later saying banks would be exempt.

image sourceEPA
image captionMr Mugabe was speaking at the opening of parliament

The government says the aim of the law is to empower the majority black population who were disadvantaged by colonial rule.

But critics say it has benefited Mr Mugabe's allies.

Speaking at the opening of parliament, Mr Mugabe also said the government would debate a bill on cybercrime.

Political activists say this could be used against opposition supporters using social media as a way of circumventing security laws banning gatherings without police permission.

There have been a number of protests against the government in recent months, largely because of the worsening economic situation.

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