via Foreigners stay put, says Govt Sunday, 29 December 2013 by Tinashe Farawo Sunday Mail
The Government will not evict foreigners operating businesses in economic sectors reserved for Zimbabweans, but will now issue business licences in favour of previously-disadvantaged locals, a Cabinet minister has said.
This follows reports that some individuals have been accosting foreign businesspeople over the past few weeks, seeking to take over their enterprises unprocedurally.
In an interview last week, Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Cde Francis Nhema said authorities will provide more support to indigenous Zimbabweans targeting various business ventures.
Cde Nhema emphasised that no one will be allowed to assume ownership of foreign-owned businesses outside prescribed procedures.
He said the concerned business owners should not entertain individuals who seek partnerships or takeovers without going through the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (Nieeb).
“We are a business community, which should follow proper business procedures and maintain sanity in our country. All business takeovers should be done and finalised through the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board. It is important for Zimbabweans to understand that economic empowerment relates to the creation of wealth by locals as well as employment. As Government, we have emphasised broad-based economic empowerment, giving access and opportunity to those who were looked at marginally in the economics of the past.
“What we are saying is: new licensing in reserved sectors, from January, will be skewed in favour of indigenous people.”
Cde Nhema said Government will support locals by way of training, resources, rentals, operating space and permits to make them highly-competitive. He said the foreign-owned enterprises provided goods and services during Zimbabwe’s most difficult time.
“Those foreigners operating in the reserved sectors of our economy should continue. One needs to understand that they have played a very important role in terms of providing services to our people during their time of need.
“We encourage those already in the industry to welcome new players and assist them wherever possible; working with them in the spirit of fair competition, which can only make Zimbabwe a great nation.”
The minister urged financial institutions to continue supporting locals who wish to venture into businesses. He said Zimbabweans should work with investors for the development of the country.
“It has never been the intention of this Government to take over companies for free, but to work towards a Zimbabwe stipulated in the economic blue print, Zim Asset.
“Primarily, Zim Asset talks about improving the standards of living of our people; better education and housing as well as participating in the running of the economy and not chasing away other partners.
“We must join hands with everyone to make our economy better. I have had meetings with various business communities, Indians, Nigerians e.t.c and we have agreed, in principle, that they should assist new players wherever possible.”
Mrs Georgina Duri, a Zimbabwean businesswoman, said it was important for locals and foreigners to foster closer co-operation.
“Some of us are always in foreign lands. So, I think we must just work together as a people. Imagine; what would happen to our people who are running tuckshops in South Africa (if a similar approach was adopted)?” she said.
A Congolese businessman who refused to be identified and operates just outside central Harare said it was important to harness local-foreign co-operation since foreigners also provide services to Zimbabwe.
Government — through the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act — reserved some sectors for locals to empower the previously-disadvantaged. Among these sectors are primary food and cash crop production; transport; retail and wholesale trade; barbershops; salons; employment agencies; grain milling outlets and bakeries; tobacco grading and packaging; milk processing as well as the provision of local arts and crafts.