Harare - Zimbabwe's bid to force private schools to come
under majority black control under a much contested empowerment law is illegal,
the country's education minister said on Wednesday, highlighting divisions
within the coalition government over the policy.
A government notice issued last week by Empowerment
Minister Saviour Kasukuwere gave foreign-owned banks and private schools a
year to comply with a law requiring 51% shareholding by local blacks.
But Minister of Education David Coltart, a member of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in a coalition government formed
with President RobertMugabe's Zanu-PF, said the directive was illegal.
"This action is unlawful, unconstitutional and
therefore unenforceable," Coltart said on his official Twitter account.
Coltart also told the state-controlled Herald newspaper on
Wednesday that Kasukuwere had previously assured him that private schools would
not be targeted under the empowerment drive.
He said most private schools, formerly the preserve of
whites but are now largely multiracial, were owned by churches and trusts.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is sharing power with
long-ruling Mugabe in a shaky coalition, has also sharply criticised the
empowerment law and said Kasukuwere's latest announcement does not reflect the
Kasukuwere, a Mugabe ally, has already forced mining
companies such as Rio Tinto and Impala Platinum Holdings [JSE:IMP], the world's second-largest
platinum miner, to turn over majority stakes in their local units to black Zimbabweans.