NYANGA — Foreign-owned banks operating in the country should cede 51% shareholding to locals before elections this year, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere has said.
BY CLAYTON MASEKESA
Addressing members of the Youth Empowerment Trust in Nyanga last week, Kasukuwere said he was targeting the banks namely Barclays, Stanbic and Standard Chartered which are still to comply with the indigenisation law.
“These three banks are on top of the list among others. All foreign banks must comply with the indigenisation law,” he said.
“Zimbabweans should be their own investors. Zimbabweans should invest in their economy. The banking industry is the key to the economy and this move will go a long way in empowering our people.”
The minister did not indicate when the elections would be held. President Robert Mugabe has said elections will be held in March this year but the MDCs have vowed that the polls would only he conducted after the implementation of reforms to level the electoral playing field that currently favours Zanu PF.
Analysts have however, dismissed the March poll date saying it was too near because the country still had to complete the constitution-making process, hold a referendum and then synchronise different laws of the new charter.
Kasukuwere said Zimbabweans should not be treated as aliens in their country.
“This is our country and we should benefit from all that is in it. These banks should comply or ship out. We are not going back on indigenisation,” Kasukuwere added.
Kasukuwere’s ultimatum comes a week after he warned foreign banks to adhere to the law meant to address historical imbalances or face stern measures.
Addressing guests at the signing ceremony for the terms agreement between Zimplats and government recently, Kasukuwere warned that the government would rein in banks that defied the indigenisation legislation.
“I would like to encourage other companies, particularly in the banking sector, to comply with our laws as non-compliance will no longer be tolerated,” said Kasukuwere.
“Uncalled-for defiance and arrogance will not be tolerated as all companies must respect the law and desist from provoking the State,” he said.
Kasukuwere’s latest ultimatum to banks is likely to be met with resistance from Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and Finance minister Tendai Biti, who have in the past called for caution when dealing with the delicate banking sector.