HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe has given foreign-owned banks one year to hand over 51 percent stakes to locals, according to a government notice, as President Robert Mugabe ramps up a drive to force all foreign-owned businesses to surrender majority control to blacks.
A government notice released last week said all foreign-owned banks with a minimum net value of $1 had one year to reduce their shareholding to 49 percent.
The southern African state has already forced mining companies such as Rio Tinto and Impala Platinum, the world’s second-largest platinum miner, to turn over majority stakes in their local units to black Zimbabweans.
Emboldened by his success against miners, empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere is now targeting banks.
Kasukuwere, a 41-year-old member of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, has clashed with central bank Governor Gideon Gono and Finance Minister Tendai Biti over the banking sector.
Biti, a senior member from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party and Gono, a Mugabe ally, have opposed Kasukuwere, arguing Zimbabwe only has four foreign banks out of 26 financial institutions.
Kasukuwere could not immediately be reached for comment but he has previously vowed to pursue foreign banks which he accuses of refusing to provide loans to the agriculture industry and small black businesses. Read more…