Zimbabwe has given 11 foreign-owned companies, including Britain’s Barclays and Standard Chartered banks, a two-week deadline to comply with its empowerment laws or face nationalisation.
President Robert Mugabe has targeted European and United States investments in the country for takeover as retaliation for illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and its leaders.
South African, Canadian and Australian mining firms are also among those given ultimatums.
Swiss-owned Nestle Zimbabwe, which in 2009 got into trouble after it refused to take milk deliveries from a local dairy farm, has also been targeted. The state-owned Herald newspaper on Friday said the letters delivered to the companies were dated July 28.
It said none of the companies had responded so far, quoting officials from the Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment ministry.
Foreign companies had been given a May deadline to submit plans on how they intended to hand over 51 per cent of their stakes to Zimbabweans within five years. The government says licences of the companies that fail to comply will be withdrawn, leading to nationalisation.
Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere recently said 700 companies had submitted their empowerment proposals to the government.
He said 175 proposals from mining companies had been thrown out because the firms were only prepared to sell 26 per cent direct equity to Zimbabweans.
The companies said 51 per cent equity would be met through social credits.
Detractors of Zimbabwe’s indigenisation laws, which aims to give Zimbabweans an ownership steak in the country’s economy have sought to spread fears and falsehood, continually claiming that the benefits of indigenisation will only go to President Mugabe’s associates and political allies. This in an effort not to empower local Zimbabweans.