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Zimbabwe orders foreigners to shut down their stores by end of year



by Joseph Earnest  November 26, 2013


Newscast Media HARARE—Foreign owners of stores and shops in Zimbabwe are still coming to terms with the reality that the government has ordered them to close their shops by the end of the year.


According to Deutsche Welle, the Zimbabwean government announced that retail businesses within the country would only be able to be run and owned by indigenous Zimbabweans. The declaration, the government said, was part of the country's "indigenization policy."

This move will mostly affect Chinese and Nigerian nationals who run many of the businesses in Zimbabwe. The newly-announced policy will mean businesses like restaurants, hairdressing salons and other retail outlets will be reserved purely for indigenous Zimbabweans.

The Indigenization Empowerment Act, a law that was signed in 2008, requires foreign business owners to cede 51 percent of control of their businesses to indigenous native Zimbabweans.

"It is a flexible law and investors are given time to comply. It's not about seizure of assets, it's not about expropriation," Zimbabwe's minister of economic planning and investment promotion, Tapiwa Mashakada, said at an industry conference in Perth, Australia when the act was first signed into law in 2008.

The Chinese and Nigerians have had five (5) years to comply with the law, but because of non-compliance, they have until January 1, 2014 to vacate their retail outlets.  An excerpt of the law is shown below:


3. Objectives and measures in pursuance of indigenisation and economic empowerment
(1) The Government shall, through this Act or regulations or other measures under this Act or any other law, endeavour to secure that—
(a) at least fifty-one per centum of the shares of every public company and any other
business shall be owned by indigenous Zimbabweans;
(b) no—
(i) merger or restructuring of the shareholding of two or more related or associated
businesses; or
(ii) acquisition by a person of a controlling interest in a business;
that requires to be notified to the Competition Commission in terms of Part IVA of the Competition Act [Chapter 14:28] shall be approved unless—
(iii) Fifty-one per centum (or such lesser share as may be temporarily prescribed for the purposes of subsection (5)) in the merged or restructured business is held by indigenous Zimbabweans;


 *Click here to read or download the entire Indigenisation Act of 2008. (pop-up)


Nigeria itself has its own version called the Indigenisation Decree of 1974 that gives native Nigerians exclusive rights over their resources.  The purpose of these laws is to protect Africa from outside exploitation of its resources and prevent what happened during colonialism from happening again. Many have cautioned Africans to be careful with the Chinese because they may have ulterior motives in Africa.


However, South Africa's President Jacob Zuma begs to differ in the interview below:


Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, went as far as warning Africans of the "new colonialism" while in Lusaka, Zambia on June 10, 2011.

"We don't want to see a new colonialism in Africa," Clinton said in a television interview in Lusaka, the first stop on a five-day Africa tour.

"When people come to Africa to make investments, we want them to do well but also want them to do good," she said. "We don't want them to undermine good governance in Africa."  

Uganda is one of the biggest recipients of aid from China, and Press TV had an interesting discussion with Ugandan media practitioners about this subject. Watch:

According to Bloomberg, Zimbabwe has the world's second-largest reserves of platinum and chrome, after South Africa, along with deposits of gold, coal, diamonds and nickel. Foreign companies with assets in the Zimbabwe include Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., Anglo Platinum Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group. British banks Standard Chartered Plc and Barclays Plc also operate in the country. 

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