In its first policy reversal since it won the 31 July elections the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front government said it will not evict foreigners operating in business sectors reserved for locals.
The deadline for foreigners to leave the sectors was tomorrow, 1 January. 2014
According to the Indigenisation Regulations gazetted in 2010, 14 sectors were reserved for locals:
- Agriculture: primary production of food and cash crops.
- Transportation: passenger busses, taxes and car hire services.
- Retail and wholesale trade.
- Barber shops, hairdressing and beauty saloons.
- Employment Agencies.
- Estate Agencies.
- Valet services.
- Grain milling.
- Tobacco grading and packaging.
- Tobacco processing.
- Advertising Agencies.
- Milk processing.
- Provision of local arts and craft, marketing and distribution.
Indigenisation Minister Francis Nhema , however, said foreigners could continue operating but new licensing in these sectors would be reserved for locals.
“We are a business community, which should follow proper business procedures and maintain sanity in our country. All business takeovers should be done and finalised through the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board.
“It is important for Zimbabweans to understand that economic empowerment relates to the creation of wealth by locals as well as employment. As Government, we have emphasised broad-based economic empowerment, giving access and opportunity to those who were looked at marginally in the economics of the past.
“What we are saying is: new licensing in reserved sectors, from January, will be skewed in favour of indigenous people.
“Those foreigners operating in the reserved sectors of our economy should continue. One needs to understand that they have played a very important role in terms of providing services to our people during their time of need.
“We encourage those already in the industry to welcome new players and assist them wherever possible; working with them in the spirit of fair competition, which can only make Zimbabwe a great nation.
“It has never been the intention of this Government to take over companies for free, but to work towards aZimbabwe stipulated in the economic blue print, Zim Asset.
“Primarily, Zim Asset talks about improving the standards of living of our people; better education and housing as well as participating in the running of the economy and not chasing away other partners. We must join hands with everyone to make our economy better. I have had meetings with various business communities, Indians, Nigerians etc. and we have agreed, in principle, that they should assist new players wherever possible.”
President Robert Mugabe and Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa have insisted that there is no going back on indigenisation and there would be no exceptions.
The Insider pointed out that now that ZANU-PF has the mandate of the people, it is easier for the party to sell out. And it won’t be the first.