Harare indigenisation focus turns to private schools
THE Zimbabwean government has expanded its indigenisation campaign to include hotels, private schools, sports facilities, engineering and construction companies, and the telecommunications and energy sectors.
A notice in a government gazette dated last week but made public yesterday, indicated that businesses in these areas would be expected to comply with rules on local ownership within a year, fast-tracked ahead of elections likely to be held in the first quarter of next year.
Business Day could not establish yesterday whether the powersharing Cabinet had approved the takeover of the new sectors listed in the government gazette, but a senior official in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's office, Jameson Timba, said yesterday that the move by Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Savior Kasukuwere was "regrettable".
"Those schools are owned by public trusts and there are no shareholders. To that extent, there are no shares to alienate or sell to anyone," said Mr Timba.
Zanu (PF) spokesman Rugare Gumbo said he was not "up to date" with the latest plans in the indigenisation ministry, but was certain these would uphold the Zanu (PF) policy of empowering locals.
Meanwhile, foreign-owned banks operating in the country will be required to meet indigenisation regulations by month-end.
Nedbank, which owns MBCA, and Standard Bank's Stanbic, which both posted impressive financial results in the year ending April, are among the foreign banks trading in Zimbabwe that will be affected.
Sources at Barclays Zimbabwe said last month that the bank had agreed to start the implementation of the contentious indigenisation policy by transferring a significant portion of shares to employees.
Standard Chartered is also understood to have already submitted indigenisation proposals to Mr Kasukuwere, although details were not known. Standard Chartered's stake is valued at $30m.
National Indigenisation and Economic Board chairman David Chapfika insisted that the takeover of foreign-owned banks and the newly listed sectors would go ahead in spite of concerns of dire consequences for the economy. "There are no sacred cows, there is no special sector. At this point saying the banking sector is special would be foolhardy," he said.
Mr Kasukuwere, who has been locked in a war of words with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono - who warned him in May "not to come near my banks" - is certain to clash with more Cabinet colleagues as he turns up the indigenisation heat in their sectors.
Education Minister David Coltart, Power and Development Minister Elton Mangoma - who are linked to the Movement for Democratic Change party - and Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi of Zanu (PF) are likely to clash with firebrand Mr Kasukuwere.
Officials at the different ministries canvassed by Business Day indicated yesterday that they were still trying to figure out what steps to take next now that their sectors had come onto the radar of the indigenisation programme.
Trevor Maisiri, a political commentator based at the International Crisis Group in Johannesburg said: "If this expansion is about creating conditions for indigenous people who want to enter these sectors, then it is progressive.
"The moment it becomes about taking over established entities without paying fair value for them and without necessarily creating business partnerships between indigenous people and foreigners, then it is retrogressive for the country."
Tony Hawkins, an economics professor at the University of Zimbabwe, said the lack of clarity and contradictory statements on the indigenisation programme made it difficult to know what to do next.
"What is being indigenised? Is it money or brand names? The truth of the matter is that the majority of Zimbabwe's banks are already indigenised," he said.
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