YOUTH Development, Empowerment and Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere says indigenisation regulations he gazetted two weeks ago have been misconstrued, particularly those relating to the education sector.
In an interview this week, he told businessdigest that government did not intend to take over all private schools, adding the notice relating to the education sector was confined to private schools owned by for-profit investors.
He dismissed reports that government wanted to takeover trust-run private schools and church-owned schools, saying the regulations were supposed to give clarity on a sectoral basis.
Government’s indigenisation and empowerment policy has often been attacked for lack of clarity and cohesion.
“Trust schools are out and so are church-owned and run schools. In fact, the regulations only apply in instances where someone is coming to invest in a private school for a dividend. This means that such an investment would need to be indigenised. That aspect of indigenisation regulations has been misconstrued as this was supposed to bring clarity in terms of how government was going to proceed with the policy on a sectoral basis,” said Kasukuwere.
He said, “the gazetted covered private colleges and not trust schools”. The trusts are Zimbabwean-controlled and have no particular shareholders.
Where there is a company intending to own schools, surely they must partner Zimbabweans, communities or government. A private college training computer programmes and operating as a company will be treated as a business, he added.
The notice says private colleges, universities, primary and secondary schools with a net asset value of a dollar would be required to comply by June next year.
Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture David Coltart concurred with Kasukuwere on the regulation affecting educational institutions.
“I am pleased to report that I had a very constructive discussion with Minister Kasukuwere this evening regarding the Indigenisation notice recently issued.
“We are agreed that the rights contained in section 20(3) of the Constitution, namely the right of religious and other groups to set up and run schools, will be fully respected by government,” he said in a post on Facebook.
“Accordingly, all mission, church, religious, community and trust schools run not for profit will not be subject to any indigenisation policy. I hope that the agreement in this regard will settle all those parents, teachers, administrators and other interested in the education sector who feared that this critically important component of our education sector was going to be disrupted. I encourage all those who have been concerned this past week to stop worrying and to get on with the fine work they have been doing in delivering a quality education to tens of thousands of Zimbabwean children.”
Asked to comment on the indigenisation regulations forcing foreign-owned banks to sell controlling stakes to indigenous Zimbabweans, Kasukuwere said the regulations were now cast in stone.
The cabinet committee on finance was yesterday expected to meet and thrash out sticky issues on the indigenisation regulations.
The regulations, contained in a Government Gazette published two weeks ago, effectively meant that Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe chief Gideon Gono, a critic of Kasukuwere’s policy on foreign banks, had lost the battle.
But Gono, Kasukuwere and members of the cabinet committee on finance were yesterday expected to narrow their differences on banks and ensure policy coherence.
Gono and Kasukuwere have exchanged bitter words over the minister’s insistence that foreign-owned banks must sell controlling stakes to locals, after Kasukuwere’s relative success in forcing major mining companies to do the same.
The central bank chief argued that such a move would be the final nail on Zimbabwe’s economy.
Gono, however, has support from Finance minister Tendai Biti and key government officials such as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who maintain the move to take over banks is a nullity.
Under the new regulations, foreign-owned banks operating in Zimbabwe have a year to comply with the regulations.
The move to indigenize banks has drawn criticism from government and in the international community.
— Staff Writer.