FOREIGN-OWNED banks have until July to comply with the country’s indigenisation programme, National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board chairperson, David Chapfika, has said.
And in apparent reference to Finance Minister, Tendai Bit, and central bank Governo,r Gideon Gono, who have vowed to block implementation of the policy in the financial services sector, Chapfika warned that any attempts to resist the programme would be futile.
“There are no sacred cows, there is no special sector. At this point saying the banking sector is special would be foolhardy,” Chapfika told the ZBC.
Foreign companies are now required by law to transfer control and ownership of at least 51 per cent of their Zimbabwe operations to locals.
After forcing compliance in the key mining sector, Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwer, now says he will target the financial sector which is dominated by British banks, Barclays and Standard Chartered as well as the South Africa-controlled Stanbic.
The government claims foreign banks are undermining economic recovery and growth by refusing to fund agriculture and black-owned businesses.
But Gono has warned that the indigenisation programme could destabilise a sensitive economic sector adding he was prepared to issue new banking licences to locals keen to start their own banks.
“We are ready to issue licences along the lines of villages, friendships and totems should people so wish to go into banking,” Gono said recently.
“It is improper, it is not right for us to want to destabilise the financial sector by pursuing short-term gratifications and which can only lead us to unintended consequences.
“This is not a stance that is anti-indigenisation, definitely not. We are simply saying let’s have order and we will not tire in insisting on the need for order in the financial services sector.
“A bank is different from a manufacturing company, and mining. It is a custodian of people’s confidence.”