EMPOWERMENT Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has hit back at central bank governor Gideon Gono, reminding him that “discharging national responsibilities requires maturity and sober reasoning” as the row over the ownership of foreign banks continues.
Kasukuwere, who is attending a youth ministers’ conference in South Korea, said the country’s indigenisation law, which requires all foreign firms to transfer at least 51 percent of their Zimbabwe operations to locals, would be implemented “come rain come sunshine”.
He was responding to Gono’s statement Wednesday when the RBZ chief said a notice issued by Kasukuwere ordering foreign banks to comply with the law within a year was null and void.
Said Gono: “I will soon be consulting with and obtaining further guidance from President Mugabe on the latest moves by the Minister in relation to the sector that I superintend, the Banking Sector, and his instructions will be final in the manner in which we will proceed.
“Until such guidance is received from the President, we regard the regulations as gazetted as devoid of detail and rationality as they are contradictory in many respects with existing laws in the country.”
But writing on his Facebook Wall, Kasukuwere said he did not need to engage Gono over implementation of the indigenisation programme.
“We are engaged with the shareholders not regulators. The two are very different, a regulator is not a shareholder. The law is for shareholders to comply and then we can discuss with others,” he said.
Kasukuwere also dismissed Gono’s jibe that he was not a “fit and proper person” to deal with banks having been involved with the failed Genesis Bank saying: “I know some would have wanted to be doing this task, but let’s not turn it into unwarranted personal attacks.
“Discharging national responsibilities require maturity and sober reasoning. We will not fall for the attacks; but will continue to be guided by the rule of law and the necessary transformation of key institutions.
“Shareholders have been in touch with us and we are pleased with the progress to date and we will continue with the respectful engagement. I am sure that, at the right time, we will approach all other relevant authorities and get their views.”
After forcing compliance in Mining, Kasukuwere has now trained his focus on the country’s financial services sector, sparking a public spat with Gono and Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who argue that his abrasive approach could distabilise a key economic sector.
British banks, Barclays and Standard Chartered as well as Stanbic, which is owned by South Africa’s Standard Group, dominate the sector and have been accused of undermining economic recovery by not lending to black-owned businesses.
Gono has proposed an alternative empowerment policy, arguing the current equity-based approach would not benefit the poor.
But Kasukuwere said there was no going back, insisting: “There is an Act of Parliament; Chapter 14:33. It guides our work; so it’s not a personal crusade but rather national legislation.
“Let’s not sink low and make it personal, it’s about our country.”