Foreign Shop Owners to stop operating by January 2014

And just when one thought Zimbabwe’s ruling party is coming to its senses, the self-destruct sequence continues and the government is plotting a further course into stone-aged isolation. Under the limp banner of “indigenisation” and ignoring the deficiencies in the local skills-sets (haven’t you learned anything from the farm repossessions?) the local population is asked to fill the gaps in five weeks, when the German-owned bakery around the corner in Harare will have to close its doors after selling rolls and croissants for the last 30 years….. What is happening?

Believe it, or not, Zimbabwe has given all foreign companies and foreigners operating retail and wholesale businesses, including bakeries and grain milling companies, a deadline of 1 January 2014 for to stop their operations. The directive is in line with the country’s indigenisation laws that prohibit non-indigenous Zimbabweans from operating in sectors that are reserved for local indigenous Zimbabweans. The secretary for Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, George Magosvongwe, told legislators that non-indigenous entities still operating in the reserved sectors have a deadline of 1 January to comply with the requirement to relinquish their shops / holdings in that sector.

According to The Herald, Magosvongwe said his ministry was putting enforcement measures in place in the event that those affected do not comply. Magosvongwe said the government was in the process of identifying indigenous Zimbabweans who would take over ownership of those businesses in the particular sectors. This, he said, was meant to avoid creating shortages when the foreigners leave. “There is a need to ensure that we don’t create shortages in the economy, but certainly the ministry is going to enforce the rule relating to reserved sectors,” he said. Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act reserves certain sectors of the economy for indigenous Zimbabweans.

Some of these sectors, especially the retail sector, are dominated by Nigerian, Chinese and Indian individuals and firms. Well, dear Minister, last time we checked it is the 21st century and the nature of any business sector today is, forming a part of the Global Village. Skills settle, where skills are needed and long forgotten are the purely local operators. The import of skills, labour and products are part of modern society…but what would you know, bombing Zimbabwe further back into the stone-ages with legislation that is purely aimed at keeping the starving people in check to keep a group of “politicians” in power, that rather fit the profile of inmates of the local loony-bin than that of sincere government members. Democracy – the power of the people? Please hand in your Mercedes, Minister, and drive a Zimbabwean car to work!

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