Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe has applauded Schweppes, a beverage manufacturing company, for launching an employee and management share ownership trust to empower indigenous people and to fight poverty among formerly marginalised Zimbabwean workers.
During the launch held at the companyâ€™s premises in the Willowvale Industrial Area in Harare this Wednesday, President Mugabe presented the employeesâ€™ Certificate of Incorporation to the company Chairman, Mr. Steve Kuipa.
The President hailed the launch of the employees and management share ownership trust at Schweppes as the beginning of a new era of economic relations between workers and employers where the majority indigenous workers will be directly involved in the ownership of shares in the mainstream economy through governmentâ€™s indigenisation policy.
Cde Mugabe said the indigenous employees have long contributed to the success and growth of companies investing in Zimbabwe, yet have been a source of cheap labour with little remuneration and negligible benefits accorded to them.
He said although after independence the government of Zimbabwe ensured a better working environment for indigenous employees, they continued to receive little benefit from business enterprises operating in Zimbabwe with the bulk of the profit and dividends still accruing to a small part of the population comprising the owners and shareholders of companies.
Cde Mugabe said the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act provides the enabling legal framework that facilitates meaningful participation of indigenous Zimbabweans in the economy and enhance the livelihoods and standard of living of employees.
President Mugabe appealed for peace among the various political parties for economic growth and prosperity in the country.
Responding to remarks by Schweppes Chairman, Stenford Moyo, that the empowerment programme is a human rights issue and that financiers should be protected, the President concurred but noted that it is surprising that those who cry out loudest on human rights never said anything when indigenous black peopleâ€™s rights were being trampled upon during the colonial era.
On a lighter note, in apparent reference to the many stories about the Prime Ministerâ€™s marriage, the President said there is no law which forbids polygamy in the country and in Zimbabwean culture, except in the Catholic church, which is against polygamy and called on the media to leave Prime Minister Tsvangirai alone.
Meanwhile, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister, Cde Saviour Kasukuwere has saluted Schweppes for launching the employee and management share ownership scheme which he said is currently the largest scheme that has empowered workers and management to the effect of 51% in compliance with the indigenisation policy and law.
Minister Kasukuwere said under the existing law, employee share ownership trusts are one of the designated vehicles for broad-based participation in the implementation of indigenisation and economic empowerment programmes.
He said the participation of employees in their businesses improves the status and strengthens their commitment to the company.
Chairman of the employersâ€™ consortium, Mr. Steve Kuipa said the coming on board of employees and managers into the ownership of Schweppes has brought huge benefits to the company since the beginning of the partnership.
He added that the company is looking at exporting some of its products into the SADC region.
In line with the indigenisation and empowerment policy, mining companies namely Zimplats and Unki Mine have launched community share trusts.
So far Schweppes have become the only company with has complied with the 51% threshold.