Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere yesterday described Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as a “loose cannon” protecting “imperial interests” after the Premier charged last week that the country’s indigenisation policy is driven by a “cowboy mentality”.
Addressing a two-day Zimbabwe Investment and Trade Conference in Gauteng, South Africa, last Thursday, Tsvangirai accused Zanu PF of having a “voracious appetite to grab” companies through the indigenisation drive.
But Kasukuwere yesterday hit back at Tsvangirai, accusing the Premier of pandering to the West.
He said government would press ahead with the empowerment programme regardless, with focus now shifting to the indigenisation of the financial services sector.
“The Prime Minister is a loose cannon, he can’t distinguish the difference between national laws and his tired protection of imperial interests,” Kasukuwere said in a written response to questions from NewsDay.
“He did so during the land reform and should be ashamed that our farmers are producing tobacco and grain in spite of his stringent opposition to the empowerment of our people.” He said despite Tsvangirai’s protestations that government should spare banks from indigenisation, majority shareholding of the financial service sector must be owned by indigenes.
“The banks will be transferred and have to follow the laws of our country. Isn’t it a shame that the banks are now repatriating over
$200 million stashed away in nostro accounts (accounts a bank holds with a bank in a foreign country usually in the currency of that foreign country) whilst business is suffering from high interest rates and liquidity challenges? We said it and they said these banks are ‘saints’, let them tell us what is going on,” Kasukuwere said.
“We are not finished with the banks, they must lend to the farmers, SMEs (small and medium-scale enterprises) and youths. The banks cannot rely on cardboard box protection.
Ask the PM: ‘Is Chiadzwa better in the hands of foreigners like Zimplats?’” In his address in Gauteng, Tsvangirai said Zanu PF was using the indigenisation drive as its last election trump card.
“Our problem is that our coalition partners have bastardised a noble principle into a populist election campaign issue simply for political expediency,” he said.
“Wild political jingoism and unmitigated cowboy attitudes have never been a proper substitute for a true investment and empowerment plan for the people.”
He added: “The same voracious appetite to grab has caused great anxiety in the banking sector, in which some in our inclusive government want to indigenise all banks, and we have a raging debate whether the message we are sending is the right one. Is this the right message from a fragile economy wishing for investment in order to create jobs for millions of its people and expand the economy?”
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka yesterday said the Premier’s position would not be changed by Kasukuwere’s utterances.
“The PM’s position on indigenisation has not changed and will not change,” said Tamborinyoka.
The wobbly inclusive government, incepted in February 2009, is deeply divided on the indigenisation programme with Zanu PF, which has structural power, in support of the drive, while the MDC formations argue the policy encourages company grabbing at the expense of direct foreign investment and job creation.