AFRICANGLOBE – Foreign-owned banks in Zimbabwe –Barclays, Stanbic Bank and Standard Chartered Bank — have been told they can leave the country if they are not prepared to support its industries, it was reported on Friday.
This could be detrimental to the country’s banking sector because these banks can simply divest in the country and move to the neighbouring South Africa, which has a very stable banking sector.
Barclays is the parent company of South Africa’s biggest retail bank, Absa, while Stanbic is owned by Standard Bank, which is a Johannesburg-based bank with operations in 18 African countries.
Standard Chartered is a British bank with representative offices in Johannesburg.
“These banks’ proximity to South Africa makes them have an option. If they opt to wind down their operations in South Africa, there will be job losses there,” the analyst said.
According to Fin24, Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere told African editors, who are in Zimbabwe at the invitation of the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum, that the banks were not supportive of the country’s economy.
Fin24 reported that The NewsDay quoted the minister as saying that the behaviour of banks like Barclays, Stanbic Bank and Standard Chartered Bank is appalling if they wanted to leave the country, they could do that, because they were “not of benefit to us”.
“They came with Cecil John Rhodes and still carry his views, yet we are an independent nation and the money they are holding is ours as it comes from our pension funds and farming activities,” the minister was quoted as saying.
He urged banks to support the agricultural sector and emerging businesses in Zimbabwe. “We are not saying they should give us money for free, but the financial sector must support the aspirations of Zimbabweans,” he said.
Fin24 claims most banks have not been supporting Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector because the new farmers do not have enough collateral.
The farmers also do not have security of tenure, something Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance Tendai Biti has often said will prevent farmers from developing beyond subsistence farming.
“As long as the farmers do not have securitised leases, then let us forget about agriculture beyond subsistence farming, even if we talk about financing agriculture until cows come home,” said Tendai Biti.
“Without security of tenure farmers cannot borrow money from banks to finance their operations. The truth of the matter is that without title and private finance, agriculture in Zimbabwe will continue limping and will largely be subsistence.”
By; Mzwandile Jacks