Foreign retailers: Govt beware

via Foreign retailers: Govt beware | The Zimbabwean 04.12.13 by Editor

The government recently announced that it had given foreign retailers, dominated by the Chinese and Nigerians, until the end of January to close shop. The move, the government said, is meant to make way for locals who, according to the law, must get first preference in the retail sector.

However, there are numerous issues and questions that the government needs to attend to and answer as it moves towards the consummation of its stated plan.

The first and, to us, most paramount question relates to what measures there are in place to cushion the affected foreigners from the shocks that come with a stoppage of their commercial ventures.

Granted, the government says it issued the warning to them early this year, in which case the foreign retailers had enough time to make alternative plans. But the matter is not as simple as that. It should be noted that many of these foreign retailers have been living here for a long time. Some of them relocated their families to Zimbabwe after acquiring licences to operate their shops. In some cases, they came with employees who had already made Zimbabwe their second home.

We also need to know how these foreign traders were granted licences in the first place. The law is explicit in that the retail sector must be reserved for locals. How, then, did the non-Zimbabwean retailers manage to claim hundreds of shops ahead of the locals? This is pertinent, particularly given the fact that local people have in the past complained about rampant corruption in the allocation of space for retail business.

The buck has to stop with someone. The government cannot convince us that it didn’t know what was happening. In fact, these retailers were paying taxes to Zimra, meaning that they were recognised as legal entities. Does this make Zimra an accomplice? What about the municipalities that participated in the allocation of retail space to the so-called foreigners?

We have seen this pattern where illegal structures, that the government still maintains it wants demolished, are concerned. The structures sprouted over a long period and the owners were paying municipal and other dues, only for the government to turn around and attempt to destroy the structures.

It is crucial for the government to weigh the positives of what it wants to do against the negatives. If the downside outweighs the benefits, then the law might just have to be changed.

Finally, we must express concern over the clear selectivity in which the indigenisation law is being implemented. We understand there are other major business concerns where some types of foreigners are not being touched, particularly in the mining and extractive sectors. We are also aware of foreign companies that have been given tenders under shady circumstances. What is going to happen to these?

 

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7 comments on “Foreign retailers: Govt beware
  1. gorongoza says:

    What do you mean getting licences ahead of the locals? Has any local been refused licences? There is nothing like that. Retail business is the easiest to get licences for. But licences do not represent capital. You need capital to start a business, and its noone’s fault that we do not have the money and these foreigners managed to save from wherever they came from and invested in our country. This thinking that the world owes us everything is foolish! we need to compete, and not expect to get everything on a silver platter. “Oh! we can all wait for the govt to steal some business or some farm, some shop or some mine…. from soemone and then we get going!” really? in this globalised busniess world we still think like savages?

    • Wekari says:

      Dude, you are right

    • Chamutengure says:

      You are missing the point. They have not been stopped totally from operating. What is being said is they should leave this retail and other businesses reserved to locals for locals. They are welcome to venture into other areas still open to foreigners its happening the world over. Am surprised the way you think by protecting the locals. Check Botswana , S Africa etc that is what is on the ground. All the burning of foreign owned shops is fanned by all this.

  2. wasu wemanyika says:

    Gorongoza you saying the truth but however its now time for these nigerians and chinese to go to their countries and do business and leave zimbabwe to zimbabweans .Most zimbos do have capital but cant get these retail shops.I was refused to get this license simply because i did not have money to bribe them.

  3. Mboko says:

    I think what is more important is the xenophobic retaliation that Zimbabwe is creating to those people in other countries. Zimbabwe cannot look at itself in isolation – not in this era of globalisation

  4. Ivor Payne says:

    In fact the law is a long way from clear on this issue….

  5. Ndlovu Kayisa says:

    Ay- its normal in all countries to have sectors reserved for locals. now you find Chinese making bread and selling clothes incl second hand Nigerians selling spare parts and running hair salons. the other characters are Indians. these have a tendency of going kuroots to marry and bring them as spouses. I think we can leave out our neighbouring countries in SADC – Tanzanians but the rest NO. ndezvedu. ngavaende kwavo kumusha.

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