Cathy Buckle – Next up for grabs

Dear Family and Friends,

We don’t know if we’re on our heads or our heels in Zimbabwe after
the latest government notice about indigenisation. It seems the farms
and mines are not enough and next up for grab are businesses, banks,
schools, and virtually every privately owned entity. The best way to
tell it is with quotes.

The latest indigenisation saga caught our attention with a question by
a NewsDay reporter to Zanu PF’s Minister of Youth, Empowerment and
Indigenisation, Saviour Kasukuwere. The journalist asked the Minister
if his ministry would consider an empowerment model proposed by
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono. Minister Kasukuwere’s response,
quoted in NewsDay was: “F***k you, I have no interest in that. You
don’t ask me about the governor (Gono)! Get out of my office! Get
out of my office! Get out now.”

Next came front page headlines which screamed: “Govt to grab private
schools.” General Notice 280 of 2012, published in the Government
Gazette laid out regulations for the indigenisation of nine major
sectors. This included schools with a net asset of one dollar which
are to be required to have a 51% indigenous ownership. The notice
applies to privately owned pre schools, primary and secondary schools,
colleges and universities. NewsDay newspaper wrote: “The
indigenisation programme that initially targeted mines, is now a
blanket plan… covering finance, tourism, arts and entertainment,
engineering and construction, telecommunications and the motor
industry.”

Minister of Education, David Coltart, immediately responded to the
government notice urging schools, their boards and trustees to:
“continue the good work they are doing and disregard this so called
provision which is illegal and unenforceable.”

While the assault on private education was in the spotlight, the
threat to banks was growing. The Indigenisation Minister said all
foreign owned banks had a year to dispose of 51% shareholding to
“indigenous Zimbabweans.” Indigenous Zimbabweans only refers to
people with black skin, even if people with other skin colours were
born and have always lived here, as have their parents, grandparents
and great grandparents.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai then issued a statement about the
indigenisation threat to banks and schools saying: “There is no such
government position.” The PM said the Indigenisation Minister had no
power to: “project an image of a voracious government keen to
compulsorily grab almost all institutions and companies in the
country.” Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the regulations outlined
by Minister Kasuukuwere in the General Notice were: “of no legal
effect, an absolute nullity. In any case, if you indigenise a bank
what are you indigenising? A building or computers?”

Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono said foreign owned banks would not
be seized: “yesterday, today or tomorrow” and described the latest
General Notice as: “devoid of detail and rationality.” Gono said
he was waiting to consult with president Mugabe and that: “his
instructions will be final.”

At the end of it all, those last five words were the most worrying.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy 7th July 2012.

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