HARARE – Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere yesterday said the mining sector has been fully indigenised and he is now ready to transform the banking sector.
The government, under its controversial indigenisation laws, ordered Zimbabwe-based foreign mining companies to surrender 51 percent of their shares to Zimbabweans, in a move that is expected to have a negative effect on investments in the mining sector.
Speaking at a National Indeginisation and Economic Empowerment all-stakeholders meeting in the capital, Kasukuwere said the mining sector was now almost compliant with the indigenisation policy and he would now be extending the company seizures to banks.
“The mining sector has complied with Zimplats, Mimosa, Unki and others having already complied with the indigenisation legislature. Only the paper work is now left and we are happy with what we have achieved,” he said.
“Our next move is to transform the banking sector. Any banking sector that refuses to lend money to the local people is suppressing and sabotaging the economy. The banks are sitting on billions of dollars and they are prepared to lend to Greece and yet refuse to fund local projects.”
Kasukuwere has clashed with central bank governor Gideon Gono and Finance minister Tendai Biti over the indigenisation of the local financial services sector, which the latter feel is sensitive and if handled carelessly can cause serious economic mishap.
Currently there are 26 banking institutions operating in the country, of which seven only are foreign-owned and internationally active banks.
The rest are locally-owned.
Gono was quoted early in the year saying while he believes in the principle of indigenisation, he did not support the current model and approach.
He has in fact proposed his own “supply chain-based economic empowerment model” as an alternative to the current equity-based plan. The Reserve Bank is not against the country’s indigenisation policy per-se, but is only advocating for economic empowerment in the banking sector, in a manner that preserves the prevailing stability in the sector.
To this end, an alternative empowerment model in the banking sector based on the supply chain approach can be seriously considered.
“Banking institutions play an indispensable role of transferring resources from the surplus units to the deficit units in the economy,” Gono said.
Kasukuwere said there is need for policy harmonisation to ensure that all sectors in the country are fully compliant with the Indigenisation law.
“There are 144 pieces of legislation that undermine our efforts to economically empower our people.
‘‘In the coming three weeks I will be taking them to Parliament so that we harmonise our laws,” he said.
The government has been criticised over the past decade for patronage when seizing white-owned farms.
Critics say many farms are now in the hands of party loyalists instead of the landless black peasants who were supposed to benefit.
Critics of the takeovers of mines and banks say Zanu PF is using the policy to try and win votes ahead of elections which will be held in the next 12 months. –