Zimbabwe halts private schools takeoverBy KITSEPILE NYATHI in Harare | Thursday, July 12 2012 at 14:28
Zimbabwe has reversed a notice giving foreign-owned schools and nurseries a year to hand over 51 per cent of their shareholding to locals.
The directive issued by Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere a fortnight ago, was also targeted at foreign banks, which were still subject to the compulsory takeovers.
The measures are part of President Robert Mugabe’s controversial economic empowerment programme that has already seen foreign mining companies being forced to give their majority stakes to locals.
But Education minister David Coltart Thursday said he had reached an agreement with Mr Kasukuwere to spare non-profit-making mission schools, religious institutions and community-owned schools from the asset grab.
Mr Coltart of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said that the inclusive government formed with President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF had already declared that the directive was illegal.
“Minister Kasukuwere and I agreed that mission, religious, church and community trust schools run not for profit, will not be subject to indigenisation,” he said in a statement.
“I am pleased to report that I had a very constructive discussion with (Mr) Kasukuwere regarding the 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 the directive had created uncertainty in Zimbabwe’s education sector.
“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,” Mr Coltart said.
Mr Kasukuwere, who has also clashed with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono over his directive to banks, said the issue had been blown out of proportion.
“It was a question of misreading that caused the panic and we are on the same page with (Mr) Coltart,” he said.
“If a school is run for profit, then it is a company that is subjected to the laws of the country, but council run schools and church related institutions, you can’t indigenise because they are for the community and already benefiting the community.”
Analysts say President Mugabe would use the indigenisation programme for his re-election and would not be bothered by its impact on Zimbabwe’s battered economy.
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