Kasukuwere ups ante against Gono

HARARE - Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere has said his bid to win majority control of foreign-owned banks was facing resistance from technocrats linked to Zanu PF.

The Zanu PF legislator told a Masvingo gathering at the weekend that a directive to seize control of foreign-owned banks was being stonewalled by technocrats opposed to his localisation programme.

In thinly-veiled remarks targeted at Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono, Kasukuwere, however, vowed that all foreign-owned banks, intcluding Barclays, South Africa’s Standard Bank and Standard Chartered Bank, must comply with his directive for the transfer of a 51 percent share to locals.

With the RBZ chief saying there is no law for the arbitrary seizure or expropriation of banking assets in Zimbabwe “yesterday, today or tomorrow”, the empowerment minister said in a sharp rebuke on Friday that the programme was irreversible.

“Shefu taona nhamo,” Kasukuwere said. “There are others who are very good at criticising, but proffer no solutions. We would want to move forward, we are sick and tired of those who sit and look for mistakes and never provide solutions. When you ask them to do their part in their area, pauri ipapo indigenise the economy, (they say) pano hapabatwi. Asi pani? Aiwa Cde president.”

Gono has warned the government against its planned seizure of banks, saying such a move could destabilise the sector or country’s economy.

In 2007, Zimbabwe enacted a law forcing all foreign-owned companies to hand over majority stakes to local blacks and it has taken effect in the mining sector, where companies such as Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats) - the country’s biggest platinum mine - have already been forced to comply.

At the function, Kasukuwere claims the Impala Group subsidsiary was sending out huge profits from Zimbabwe’s minerals.

“It is fact, it is there mumanewspaper, Zimplats pachayo last year, yakatumira $200 million kuImpala  kuSouth Africa,” Kasukuwere said.

“Dai takasiirwa kana $40million muno muMasvingo, hamaidai musina building four-storey one chete. Dai takavaka 10 buildings or more.”

At the chiefs’ council meeting, seven companies in the province were officially indigenised and these include Bikita Minerals Corporation (BMC), Gaths Mine, Lennox Mine, Renco Mine, Steelmakers (Simbi), Tongaat Hullet and Save Valley Conservancy, while seven other community share schemes were launched on the sidelines of the conference.

Titus Maluleke, the Masvingo provincial governor, also claimed he was facing serious resistance from whites in the Save Valley — known for its flora and fauna —targeted by Zanu PF functionaries.

In the latest assault, concession holders have been forced to fork out $1 million each for the trusts.

While the Rio Tinto plc-owned Murowa Diamonds (Murowa) has handed over $1 million for the Chivi Community Share Ownership Scheme, Kasukuwere said the company had tried to misrepresent to him by claioming it was making perpetual losses.

“Nhasi pano tine makambani eMurowa Diamonds, vanga vechidyawo vari vega. Wakavabvunza vanoti tiri kuita loss. Ndakati kana muri kuita loss, muri kucherei mana muchiita loss?

“Why don’t you leave it if you are making losses. Saka tikati tipei 51 percent, 10 percent topa community, 10 percent topa vashandi, 31 percent tochengetera mhuri yeZimbabwe,” he said.

The aggresssive minister said Mugabe’s drive to transfer ownership from foreign firms to local blacks had made the 88-year-old leader a pan-African revolutionary, and vowed the programme was unstoppable.

“In Africa Cde president, it’s now an acknowledged fact that you are leading a new kind of revolution that many a leader has shied away from,” Kasukuwere said.

“Kana mabata paupfumi mabata pane nyaya yese. And Cde president we are glad muripo.”

In a largely fawning tone, the youghtful minister said he was glad to be Mugabe’s proxy in such an important national programme.

“Hataikwanisa kuzviita izvi but we are doing it nekuti vanoziva kuti this minister was appointed by president Mugabe,” Kasukuwere said.

“They know what you mean... and that is what is making it easy for us. We know that it’s not going to be easy. We will stumble and fall, but we are determined to achieve the objectives you have set for us. We are determined your excellency to recover our wealth on behalf of our people.” - Gift Phiri, Political Editor

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