Mugabe slams 'irresponsible' banks

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has said rogue bankers were contributing to the waning confidence in the financial services sector by the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).  

Mugabe spoke at the launch of a 2013 Micro, Small to Medium Enterprises Survey — conducted by Finmark and Finscope with funding from the World Bank — which revealed that $7,4 billion realised by SMEs was not finding its way into banks as they have lost confidence in the country’s financial services sector.

There are over two million SMEs who own 3,5 million businesses in the country, according to the survey findings.

Of the over two million SMEs, 72 percent of their owners reside in rural areas while 800 000 of them employ 2,9 million people.

Mugabe said the reason why SMEs do not keep their money in banks is that they are afraid of losing it, adding local banks were charging unreasonable interest rates.

“People fear to take their money to banks because inodyiwa ikoko — because our educated children who have qualified in accounts and economics gang up to form banks and people deposit their money,” Mugabe said.

“They take people’s money and end up spending it on girlfriends hoping to pay back some time but economic hardships come and they end up failing to do that.

“They do not realise that wealth does not come from dreams that come after whispers from their wives who say you are being left behind as others make money then you wake up and say I want to own a bank.

“Be steady, take your time and be honest and truthful in handling depositors’ money which gives them confidence which at the moment does not exist.”

Mugabe urged government to help the small businesses by using the statistics to craft schemes and packages that are aimed at promoting women businesses saying “they had proved to be more viable than their male counterparts.”

The survey, according to Sithembiso Nyoni, SMEs minister, had confirmed through scientific research — the realities on the ground which will enable government to make informed policies.

Nyoni said SMEs were one of the major reasons why the government had not collapsed during the economic meltdown.

“The findings of the survey, one of its kind, will enable us to make informed policy decisions for the development of SMEs which contribute to employment creation and enhancing a better livelihood for our people,” Nyoni said.

“All we need to do is to create an enabling environment which promotes growth.” - Mugove Tafirenyika

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