HARARE – Zanu PF youth league leader Kudzanai Chipanga has expressed disappointment in the acquisition of Barclays Bank Zimbabwe (BBZ) by a foreign bank, questioning government’s sincerity in empowering locals.
BBZ was this week acquired by a Malawian financial institution — First Merchant (FMB) Bank — from Barclays PLC, despite efforts by local management to snap up the asset.
The deal comes as President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF government has been fiercely pushing its indigenisation policy, which compels foreigners to cede majority shareholding to black locals.
Barclays PLC held a 67, 68 percent stake in BBZ, which had been operating in Zimbabwe for decades.
Speaking at a Zanu PF youth rally —addressed by 93-year-old Mugabe – in Marondera yesterday, Chipanga said they were unhappy with the takeover of the strategic asset by foreigners.
“We are very saddened to read in the press that Barclays Bank is being sold and the people buying that bank are Malawians,” he said.
“The money we are hearing that the bank is being sold for is in the region of $30 million. We are worried. How can a bank be bought by people from outside our country. Have we failed as Zimbabweans?
“Have we failed as government? Have we failed to find people with money to buy a bank like Barclays Bank to assist Zimbabweans?” he questioned.
“We are talking of indigenisation. We can’t have a bank that is being controlled by people from far away, that’s where we have problems of sabotage.”
Chipanga’s remarks come as Saviour Kasukuwere, during his tenure as Indigenisation minister, threatened foreign banks over non-compliance with the empowerment policy.
He even gave them an ultimatum in 2012.
Meanwhile, pro-democracy activist Moses Chamboko also slammed government for its sudden silence on the indigenisation matter.
“The unusual silence from the ‘indigenisation brigade’ gives it away,” he said.
He questioned why the BBZ’s acquisition failed to attract the attention of those “who claim to be champions of indigenisation, including Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao”.
“Was this not a perfect opportunity to go for not only 51 percent but at least 68 percent ownership? Why was it not perfect sense to acquire BBZ,” Chamboko asked.
“Is it not a shame or at least a challenge when a Malawian bank buys BBZ while Zimbabweans watch without doing anything? Why didn’t we invest in this decent business?
“And yet, we have the guts to stand on roof tops and shout that Zimbabweans are the smartest people in southern Africa.”