AFRICANGLOBE – Zimbabwe has given foreigners with businesses in sectors reserved for Zimbabweans up to end of December to stop their operations or face arrest.
According to the country’s indigenisation laws, foreigners are no allowed to run business in the wholesale and retail businesses, transportation, hairdressing and production of primary agricultural products among others as the sector is reserved for locals.
The government first issued the directive in May and gave the affected businesspeople up to the end of the year to comply.
Zimbabwe’s Secretary for Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment George Magosvongwe told the country’s parliament on Thursday that the government was in the process of identifying Zimbabweans to take over ownership of the businesses seized from foreigners.
“I confirm that some non-indigenous entities are still operating in the reserved sectors and there is a deadline for January 1 for them to comply with the requirement to relinquish their holdings in that sector,” he said.
Magosvongwe said enforcement agents will be deployed countrywide once the deadline given to foreigners lapses.
“And we will bring in the enforcement agencies from right across the government departments and the local authorities to ensure that enforcement happens,” he said.
The law will mainly affect Chinese and Nigerian traders who have flooded the southern African country after taking advantage of its weak currency before it was scrapped in 2009.
President Robert Mugabe has vowed to intensify the seizure of foreign owned companies after he won overwhelming re-election in July.
The country’s indeginisation laws seek to force big foreign owned companies to cede 51 percent of their ownership to locals.
However, Western economists have warned that the programme would trigger another economic downturn, similar to the one Zimbabwe suffered after President Mugabe’s government took back Zimbabwe’s stolen land from White settlers who had occupied it in 2000.