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Zimbabwe government tells foreigners to close shops, make way for black Zimbabweans by Jan 1

Zimbabwean authorities say they have given foreign shop-owners — mostly Chinese and Nigerian nationals — an ultimatum to shut down their businesses by Jan. 1.

A top official of the black empowerment ministry said only Zimbabweans had the right to run shops that have sprung up across the country and are termed foreign businesses targeted under the nation's black empowerment laws, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Friday.

Those laws, passed in 2007, demand foreign businesses to cede 51 percent control to local blacks.

The foreign shop owners have been criticized for taking retail trade opportunities from Zimbabwean traders by selling cheap imports.

Poor townships and city flea markets have in recent years been inundated by shops run by foreigners.

According to state media, shop owners who fail to comply will be arrested.