Controversial law

The regulations applied to firms worth more than half a million dollars, in particular, mining companies and banks.

Under the rules, all foreign companies were required to submit proposalson how they would sell 51 per cent of shares in local subsidiaries to Zimbabweans within five years.

The largest targets of the law included local subsidiaries of British banks Barclays and Standard Chartered, as well as mining companies such as Impala Platinum, AngloPlatinum and Rio Tinto. 

The administration of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, passed the law to localise control of foreign firms in 2007.

But the controversial law split Zimbabwe's unity government,established after the law was passed.

Supporters of the law have denied comparisons to the takeover of white-owned farms, instigated in 2000, saying that shares in companies would have to be bought.

But others have warned that the law will damage Zimbabwe's already ailing economy and jeopardise foreign investment.