Foreigners operating businesses were given notice that they risk being arrested if they continued doing business after a deadline to relinquish their businesses to Zimbabweans. Zimbabweans will take control of wholesale and retail establishments from foreign owners, the state-owned media has reported.
The government had added barber shops, hair dressings, beauty salons, bakeries, employment agencies and grain milling to the list of those who may face prosecution if they fail to obey.
Foreign business has been a threat as of late to economic security of Zimbabwe. There is also an antsy yet still seated Mugabe who sees this as an opportunity to clamp down control by claiming to be removing damaging foreign influences.
Last August the controversial leader of Zimbabwe threatened to expel foreign-owned firms over what he claimed was Western interference in the politics of the country. This of course came one month after Mugabe won elections that both the European Union and the United States refused to recognize as legitimate due to irregularities and fraud.
This particular move by Mugabe seems to be in line with the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act, according to the state-controlled news agencies. The act calls for the protection of reserved sectors of the economy as being agriculture, transportation, estate agencies, tobacco grading and packaging, advertising agencies, milk processing and provision of local arts and crafts.
State-owned papers felt that the Nigerian and Chinese populations who immigrated in recent years were likely to be the biggest casualties as they had set up small shops and businesses in almost every town.
These measures are likely to leave Zimbabwe dependent on imports and fleeing populations if barriers of investment and business continue to target foreign companies in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has one of the most uncompetitive economies and the country needs foreign companies to invest money, innovation, and labor. This move also serves to further isolate an increasingly beleaguered Mugabe on the international stage, with his citizens to pay for that distance.
– Nina Verfaillie