Kasukuwere takes fresh aim at banks

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The Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment says it will this year seek to ensure non-indigenous banks support operations of indigenous entrepreneurs.

In a New Year posting on his blog page, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere said 2012 should see people pursue economic empowerment with the understanding it was only when the majority indigenous Zimbabweans own and participate in their national economy that it would grow in a sustainable manner.

He said such growth, pursued within the socio-economic harmony achieved when the majority was guaranteed an equitable share in their national economy, would become more appealing to foreign investors whose investments are best secured by locals with whom they will partner.

“We shall therefore be looking to the banking sector, especially non-indigenous banks, to open up attainable capital to indigenous entrepreneurs, while endeavouring to guarantee our indigenous banks the rehabilitative support to ensure their stability and capacity to remain pillars for economic growth spurred by indigenous Zimbabweans,” said Kasukuwere.

“We shall also expect to see the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund (NIEEF), our model of a sovereign wealth fund, play a more defined role in ensuring economic empowerment across the whole country.”

Last year threats to withdraw operating licences from foreign banks for failure to comply with the indigenisation programme drew the ire of Reserve bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono.

Gono launched a veiled attack on Kasukuwere following his threats to cancel licences of Barclays and Standard Chartered.

“Tendencies towards firing harmful verbal economic gunpowder must be minimised by all stakeholders in the interest of the economy and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Board forewarns people playing with economic gunpowder to leave the game to those well-trained in its use and safe custody, lest the unintended will happen, to everyone’s future regret,” Gono said last year.

“This is necessary in order to avoid fly-by-night, reckless and excitable flexing of muscles and decisions that overlook certain fundamentals that could irreparably harm the nerve-centre of our recovering economy.”

Kasukuwere said his ministry would prioritise the capacity building of youths, ensuring they were endowed with necessary entrepreneurial and business management skills to guarantee their successful economic empowerment.

He said civil servants, who have long expressed discontent over inadequate salaries, must begin to identify and pursue opportunities arising from the government’s economic empowerment initiatives.

“Indeed their various associations can become vehicles for investing in the economy, cushioning themselves from the current socio-economic challenges still being addressed by the government,” said Kasukuwere.

“Women too must take centre stage, as their resourcefulness has long proved them capability to positively define our economy, more so when targeted as beneficiaries of economic empowerment.

“Where women come together and are motivated toward a common goal we have seen enough precedent of women entrepreneurship. Why should we not see women in mining, tourism, banking or manufacturing industries?”

He said the New Year presented the nation with an opportunity to consolidate the indigenisation of the economy and “facilitate real broad based economic empowerment”.

The Indigenisation minister added the opportunity comes at a time when the country was learning from Western economies in turmoil that no national economy is sustainable when it fails to guarantee its majority people an equitable share in national wealth.

“Such lessons must strengthen our resolve as we forge ahead with confidence on this path that seeks to ensure that our nation’s wealth is restored to the majority indigenous Zimbabweans who continue to be socio-economically deprived by the economic discrimination inherited from colonialism,” he said.

Last year the Mhondoro-Ngezi, Chegutu, Zvimba Community Trust and Tongogara Community Trust were launched with local communities gaining 10% shareholding in Zimplats and Unki Mine.