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Zimbabwe Government's
Relentless Private Sector Takeover

Next Up For Grabs
By  Cathy Buckle

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

Copyright 2012 Cathy Buckle.

For information on my new book “IMIRE”, about Norman Travers and Imire Game Park, or my other books about Zimbabwe: “Innocent Victims,” African Tears,” “Beyond Tears;” and “History of the Mukuvisi Woodlands 1910-2010”, or to subscribe/unsubscribe to this letter, please visit my website or contact



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