'Bar foreigners from retail sector'

HARARE - Zimbabwe should stop opening up the retail and wholesale sectors to foreigners because it is not in the national interest, a Cabinet minister said yesterday.

Addressing delegates at the Indigenisation Conference in the capital, Justice and Legal Affairs minister, Patrick Chinamasa slammed the opening up of the retail sector to foreigners, and singled out Pick ‘n’ Pay which recently opened up a retail shop in Harare.

“Let’s take the classic example of Pick ‘n’ Pay, there is no way locals are going to benefit from it as it is merely promoting the South African economic strategy,” Chinamasa said.

“Ninety-nine percent of the products are South African, only serving to hurt our import-export ratios as a nation.”

The Justice minister said foreign direct investment (FDI) and economic freedom were not mutually exclusive.

“There is need to immediately phase out these investors and show them sectors that will benefit from their assistance because the relationship must be mutually-beneficial, not the current fleecing situation,” said Chinamasa.

He took a swipe at the appalling implementation of economic policies by the current government, lamenting the fact that the Indigenisation and Investment Acts were assigned to different ministers saying this has negatively affected the implementation of initiatives meant to benefit locals.

The Indigenisation Act is administered by the Indigenisation and Empowerment minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, while the Investment Act is assigned to Tapiwa Mashakada, minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion.

Chinamasa then stoked a potentially explosive debate when he suggested his Zanu PF party led by President Robert Mugabe will merge the Economic Planning and Indigenisation ministries after the next poll.

“Recommendations to reconcile the Investment and Indigenisation Acts or the ministries thereof will be made to his Excellency, President Mugabe after the elections,” he said. - Staff Writer

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