Harare: Zimbabwe will press ahead with controversial plans to ban foreigners from owning bakeries, barber shops, estate agencies and a host of other businesses, officials said today.
"Foreigners operating in reserved sectors of the economy have been given January 1 as the deadline to comply with regulations," a government official told AFP.
The businesses to be owned by locals include bakeries, barber shops, beauty salons, estate agencies, grain mills, milk processing plants, retail outlets, tobacco processing, transport and valet services.
The rules have been on the books since 2010, but have not yet been enforced.
Long ruling President Robert Mugabe won another term three months ago and has vowed to continue with economic empowerment regulations.
So far the drive to put Zimbabweans in charge has been limited to white-owned farms and some western owned businesses.
The January deadline is set to affect nationals from China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Nigeria and Pakistan, among others.
Simon Udemba, president of the Nigerian Community in Zimbabwe, urged the government to reconsider.
"I would like to plead with the Zimbabwean government and people to be considerate in effecting this exercise," Udemba told AFP.
"As an African and resident of Zimbabwe I am particularly concerned if the approach will be economically beneficial for the country."
He said Nigerians in Zimbabwe are contributing to the development of the country and that they should not be forced out of business.
"I believe Nigerians are providing necessary services. Nigerians have been here with Zimbabweans through all these years of isolation by the West, they never deserted Zimbabwe," he said.
"They have been in Zimbabwe through thick and thin, they live here with their families. Nigerians in Zimbabwe are doing genuine business and are servicing the economy positively."
"In my view there is no black African that should be called a foreigner in any black African land, we should look at one another as brothers."