National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board chairman, David Chapfika, was quoted last week as saying foreign banks had a July deadline to submit proposals on how they would comply with the Indigenisation Act.
Chapfika was quoted by the ZBC as saying that that any attempts to resist the ZANU PF programme would be futile, because no sector was exempt from the rules.
“There are no sacred cows, there is no special sector. At this point saying the banking sector is special would be foolhardy,” Chapfika said.
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono on Saturday then attempted to try and calm the situation by insisting that there won't be any immediate changes and the banking sector would not yet be forced into meeting the indigenisation laws.
The laws require foreign owned firms in the country to hand over 51% of their shareholding to indigenous Zimbabweans, and so far the campaign has hit the mines industry the hardest. International mining houses like Impala Platinum have already submitted to the so-called empowerment campaign, signing over a 51% share handover deal.
The banking sector appears to be the next main target, with international firms like Barclays and Standard Bank still heavily invested in Zimbabwe’s industry.
But economist Tony Hawkins told SW Radio Africa on Monday that the state of the banking sector is far from healthy, making the indigenisation deadline ‘unlikely’.
“My own feeling is that as far as the banks are concerned the state of the industry is not as healthy is what is being said. So it is unlikely that anyone is going to risk what Chapfika is expecting,” Hawkins said.
Meanwhile he explained that indigenising the banks is not clear cut, “because you are dealing with money that already belongs to indigenous people.” He said that, along with contradictory statements from government and other officials, there is little understanding about what will happen next.
“So you have to ask: What is being indigenised? Is it money? Is it brand names? And the truth of the matter is that the majority of Zimbabwe’s banks are already indigenised,” Hawkins explained. SW Radio AfricaPost published in: News