WASHINGTON DC —
The Zimbabwe indigenization board says all foreigners operating small-scale businesses in the country will be compelled under the nation’s law to open bank accounts.
This follows reports that 90 percent of foreigners operating businesses in this sector do not have bank accounts.
The Ministry of Youth, Economic Empowerment and Indigenization says papers submitted by most of the foreigners, who wanted to beat the January 1ST, 2014 deadline to transfer majority shares to local people, showed that they did not have any bank accounts.
Indigenization board chief executive, Wilson Gwatiringa said all the foreigners, who include Indians, Nigerians, Pakistanis and Chinese, are expected to open bank accounts before being allowed to operate in sectors set aside for local blacks.
Some Zimbabweans have dismissed as “wishful thinking”, remarks by Indigenization Minister Francis Nhema that they should raise money to invest in foreign companies operating in sectors reserved for locals.
Residents of Harare, Bulawayo and Gweru who spoke to VOA Studio 7 on Friday said it is impossible for them to raise any money for investment as they are struggling to make ends meet due to the current liquidity crunch in the country.
They said on average they needed to raise $1,000 for investing in small-scale companies owned by Nigerians, Asians and other nationals operating in sectors like wholesale trade, transportation, agriculture and several others, that have been reserved for indigenous people.
These companies were supposed to have complied with the country’s indigenization programme by January 1st this year but have now been given five years by the government to transfer majority shares to Zimbabweans.
Roderick Fayayo of the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association said most city residents cannot raise funds for investment due to high poverty levels in the country.
“There is no way that suffering people can manage to raise money to invest in these companies. Right now they are trying to make ends meet,” said Fayayo.
Political and social commentator Bekezela Maduma agreed, saying the government is engaged in an indigenization programme which only benefits the rich and Zanu-PF supporters.
“This programme is designed to benefit only people aligned to the status quo, nothing else,” said Maduma.
Studio 7 was not able to contact Minister Nhema whose mobile phone was not reachable. The Zanu PF government insists that the indigenization programme is tailor-made to benefit all local people.