Biti bemoans ‘anti-black’ capital policies

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Finance minister Tendai Biti has accused previous governments of failing to support aspirations of indigenous entrepreneurs in big businesses by continuously antagonising them through various policies.

The last decade has seen some of the country’s leading businesspeople and the government in unending “fights” resulting in some losing their assets and going into exile.

Biti was speaking at the recently held Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference in Gauteng, South Africa, where the government was on a mission to convince investors the country was ready to do business in a “normal way”.

He said there was a time when the State used to have a problem with “black capital”, but the inclusive government was working tirelessly to ensure black people who had businesses taken away from them got their assets back.

“We went through a period in our country where the State had a problem with black capital.
“Local black capital did not just apply to Mutumwa (Mawere).

“We had banks owned by William Nyemba and Chris Goromonzi (Trust Bank), Barbican Bank and Intermarket group that had their assets taken away,” Biti said.

“In the case of Mawere and his group, there was an allegation that his companies owed money to the State.

“In respect to those banks that I have mentioned, it was also alleged they owed the State.

“As the inclusive government we have tried to ensure that they get their assets back.”

Mawere is still fighting the government to regain control of Shabanie Mashava Mines that has since been taken over by the State through the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.

Mawere was de-specified in May 2010 together with four other businesspersons, who had become part of a club of State-condemned businessmen and corporate leaders who fled into exile in 2004 after the State specified them, accusing them of foreign currency externalisation and corruption.

Trust Holdings boss Nyemba was one of the first specified businesspeople to return to the country and he successfully revived Trust Bank that had been forcibly disbanded and merged with other banks to create the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG) by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Former Intermarket Holdings chief executive Nicholas Vingirai returned last year.
Biti said the inclusive government was in the process of untangling Vingirai’s assets.

Intermarket has since been incorporated into ZB Holdings.

Barbican Holdings founder Mthuli Ncube and prominent Telecel shareholder James Makamba still remain holed up outside the country.

Barbican was relicensed in 2010.

“Mthuli Ncube got his bank licence back, but he has not started operating,” Biti said.

He said Nyemba and Royal Bank boss Jeffrey Mzwimbi successfully negotiated for the return of their assets and had resumed their operations.

Trust Bank was relicensed on September 1 2010 and resumed operations in December 2010.

On Mawere Biti said: “It’s not an issue under the Ministry of Finance, but what I know is that some of us have been fighting that he gets his assets back.

“The only complication is that there have been various judgments, unlike in the other situations.

“I don’t think it’s a lost case, it’s a struggle and Mawere will get his assets back.”