Kasukuwere, Gono on collision course

ZIMBABWE – Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment, Saviour Kasuku-were is expected to clash with Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono after he threatened to tighten the screws on banks that “continue to flout” the country’s indigenisation law.

Zimbabwe’s empowerment law compels foreign-owned institutions to cede 51 percent of their shareholding to locals.

Biti, who had previously told Kasukuwere to stay off banks in his indigenisation campaign, recently indicated that the indigenisation law was being misinterpreted by Kasukuwere’s ministry, which has threatened to seize substantial shareholding in banks under the empowerment law.

Biti said: “The law does not say that every foreign-owned company shall be 51 percent-owned, the law says it is the intention to reach the destination of 51 percent ownership, so it is discretionary. A peremptory interpretation is therefore wrong.”

Gono has also previously criticised Kasukuwere for fuelling instability in the banking sector at a time of severe liquidity challenges.

Standard Chartered, Stanbic and Barclays are the three international banks now on Kasukuwere’s radar. Ecobank last week announced that it had complied with the country’s indigenisation requirements.

Speaking at a ceremony where Impala Platinum, the world’s second-largest platinum miner, sold a majority stake in its Zimbabwe unit, Zimplats, to local investors for US$971 million, Kasukuwere said: “I would like to encourage other companies, particularly in the banking sector, to comply with our national laws as non-compliance will no longer be tolerated.”

“Uncalled for defiance and arrogance will not be tolerated as all companies must respect the law and desist from provoking the State. There will be no sacred cows, no stone unturned to ensure that the policy is fully implemented,” Kasukuwere said.

He said the programme of indigenisation and economic empowerment was a national approach designed to benefit all indigenous Zimbabweans on a broad basis by guaranteeing broad participation in economic activities.