Zim threatens foreign banks

2011-05-16 06:43

Harare -  Zimbabwe's central bank said it planned to take punitive measures against foreign-owned banks that resist demands to transfer majority shareholding to local blacks under a controversial empowerment policy.

President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF is pushing plans to force all foreign companies to cede controlling stakes to blacks, a policy which his rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has denounced as "looting and plunder" by a greedy elite.

Analysts say the move is likely to discourage foreign investment in the recovering economy. In an interview with the official Sunday Mail newspaper, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono said the government was in consultation on how to handle the empowerment programme for the financial sector.

Gono did not say whether foreign banks had submitted plans to comply with empowerment laws but urged them to do so.

Gono was unavailable for comment on Sunday. He gave no details of timeframes or what the RBZ's punitive measures would be, but appeared to suggest licences could be withdrawn.


"In my next monetary statement (expected in July), I will announce punitive measures we will be taking as a central bank against those banks showing signs of reluctance to comply.

"We cannot be having licences held by institutions that choose to be selective when it comes to which laws of the country to comply with and which ones not to."

Gono said Zimbabwe's banking sector was generally in a healthy state but could be threatened by a loss of staff at the central bank, where hundreds have applied to leave because of depleted resources, low wages and poor working conditions.

The central bank retrenched 75% of its staff early this year and Gono said most of the remaining 530 wanted to go, which would leave it "facing closure" and unable to competently supervise the financial sector.

Foreign-owned banks in Zimbabwe include Barclays Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Stanbic Zimbabwe -- a subsidiary of Standard Bank Group [JSE:SBK].

Foreign mining companies in Zimbabwe have up to September 30 to comply with a law requiring them to surrender at least 51% of their local equity to black investors.

Miners include Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS] and Impala Platinum Holdings [JSE:IMP], the largest platinum producers in the world and mining giant Rio Tinto, which runs a diamond mine. 

  • Daan Marais - 2011-05-16 07:15

    Fortunately we live in a connected world and banking can be done in any number of countries and currencies, as long as you have internet or cellphone access. Daan Marais

  • pottie - 2011-05-16 07:53

    Isn't that just so typical " We Want..We Want, we couldn't possibly work hard for it like the rest of the world" .

  • JMan - 2011-05-16 10:21

    How can this idiot drive his country further anf further down the drain without realising it...and secondly, how can everyone else just sit by and watch? And how can any foreign investor even think about pumping even 1c into that country...?

  • sonnyg - 2011-05-16 17:03

    The foreign banks will simply pull out, they are making absolutely no money Zim. They are merely keeping their doors open in hope that one day Mugabe will fall. Unlike the mines they have absolutely no motivation to stay in Zimbabwe so I doubt they will bow to this threat.

  • Makhanyane - 2011-05-17 20:43

    Uncle Bob..You are correct in the vaults are endless unending sums of money...eish its magic, this supply of imali..from the ancestors

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