via Foreign owned firms receive indigenisation notifications | SW Radio Africa by Tererai Karimakwenda December 16, 2013
The ZANU PF government has moved ahead with its controversial plans to “indigenise” all foreign-owned businesses, with reports that a “confusing” seven-page notification has been circulated to many of the companies that will be affected.
The circulating form, titled ‘Notification of Extent of Indigenisation and Indigenisation Implementation Plan’, is reported to be a photocopy that lists more than 50 categories of businesses that must be owned 51% by Zimbabweans.
The list includes most of the informal sector jobs that “everyone has been doing to survive since farms were seized and the economy went into freefall”.
This comes just weeks ahead of the January 1st deadline set by government for all businesses operating in sectors reserved for locals to “regularise” their operations or face arrest.
Those who have read the notification form insist that it only leads to more questions than answers and does not clarify just who qualifies as “indigenous” or what “foreign” really means.
The form defines ‘indigenous’ Zimbabwean as “any person who was disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on the grounds of his or her race before the 18th April 1980”, but questions remain as to the status of white Zimbabweans born after 1980 or whether non-blacks with residence permits can be “indigenous”.
Meanwhile economist John Robertson told SW Radio Africa there has been much confusion in Harare as hundreds of businesses rush to apply for certificates to keep operating after January 1st.
“Since the announcement there has been a flurry of activity by those who had not yet applied for this certificate of compliance and I suspect it’s going to get a lot worse because the people who are hoping to be beneficiaries of this transfer of wealth are standing on the sidelines waiting to see what will happen,” Robertson explained.
He added: “It’s incredibly unclear and off course incredibly unfair all the way through. This is nothing but legalised theft and the most hideous legislation you can have. It’s tragic that this country has a government that supports the generation of legislation of this nature.”
Meanwhile ZANU PF’s central committee tackled indigenisation in a report presented at the party’s annual congress this past weekend, which blasted larger companies that the committee said had “defied” government orders to indigenise.
According to Newsday newspaper, the report said some firms had “wilfully defied” government “due to confusion caused by dissenting policy position during the tenure of the just-ended inclusive government formed in 2009”.
Among the listed firms were industry giants including Standard Chartered Bank, ZIMASCO, Plate Glass Company and Tongaat Hulett. The Central Committee called on government to penalise these companies and strengthen the process of checking for compliance.
At a time when hundreds of companies are reported to have already shut down since ZANU PF declared victory in the last election, their indigenisation policy is bound to force even more firms into closure and drive away any potential investors.