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Mutambara okays empowerment crusade


Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has thrown his weight behind Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere’s indigenisation crusade, saying there was no reason why foreign banks should be regarded as sacred institutions.

Kasukuwere’s calls for the indigenisation of foreign banks have courted the ire of Finance minister Tendai Biti and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon, Gono who have argued that the financial services sector was sensitive.

Speaking on Wednesday night during a debate organised by Sapes Trust in Harare, Mutambara said there was need to indigenise the banking sector in line with national interest.

“The financial sector must be indigenised. It must be aligned to the national interest,” he said.

Mutambara said it was “a travesty of justice” for banks such as Standard Chartered to bank money raised locally in England.

Foreign-owned banks have been accused of ignoring calls to support local farmers, arguing the latter had no collateral, so the banks could not gamble with their clients’ savings. Mutambara said since agriculture was a key pillar of the country’s economy, it was wrong to have a financial sector not supportive of agriculture.

“We need a new financial sector law as the current ones are inadequate. New instruments must be given to the financial sector,” he said.

“Banks must support agriculture because there is money to be made there. You can’t have banks in the country that don’t support agriculture. Whose interests are they serving?”

Biti told journalists last month that there was no need to indigenise the financial sector since it was already dominated by local banks. Standard Chartered, Barclays, Stanbic and Ecobank are the only foreign-owned banks in the country.
Foreign-owned firms operating in Zimbabwe are required in terms of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act to sell at least 51% stake to locals.

Kasukuwere has in the past said after the mining sector had been fully indigenised, he would turn his focus to the financial sector.

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