Kasukuwere yet to meet Barclays

HARARE - Empowerment minister Savior Kasukuwere says he is yet to meet Barclays Africa chief executive Kennedy Bungane over indigenisation of the bank’s Zimbabwean unit.

Kasukuwere — who was supposed to meet Bungane on March 26 — told businessdaily that the meeting will be rescheduled.

“I could not meet up with Mr Bungane as something came up,” he said, adding that a new date will be announced soon.

George Guvamatanga, Barclays Zimbabwe managing director, refused to comment on the issue “until the deal is completed.”

“This issue has received too much attention which has led to misinformation. We are not going to be commenting until deliberations are over and a way forward has been established,” Guvamatanga said.

This comes as Kasukuwere – the man in charge of implementing government’s indigenisation programme — has intensified pressure on foreign-owned banks to comply with the country’s empowerment policy.

There are four foreign-owned banks currently operating in the country namely Standard Chartered Bank, Barclays Bank, Standard Bank’s Stanbic, and MBCA — owned by South Africa’s Nedbank.

Despite experts arguing that indigenising the institutions could rattle the fragile financial sector with disastrous effects on the economy, Kasukuwere argues the institutions will not be exempted from complying with the law.

“While the banks should observe the laws of the country including the Indigenisation Act, the process… should, however, take cognisance of the sensitiveness around the operation of the banks to restore confidence, trust and stability in the sector,” the central bank said in its 2013 Monetary Policy Statement, adding that it was working together with the Indigenisation ministry “to ensure that compliance with appropriate laws is done in an orderly manner.”

The indigenisation policy compels all foreign-owned companies to give up at least 51 percent shareholding to locals.

Kasukuwere — who has already signed multi-million dollar empowerment deals with mining firms — recently said all foreign-owned banks should be indigenised by July.

“We are currently dealing with the banking sector and after that we will move to manufacturing and other sectors,” he has been quoted as saying.

Mining companies including units of Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum have already complied with the law.

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