Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti said lenders including units of Barclays Plc (BARC) and Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) have a last chance to support the central bank’s Treasury bill sales or they will be compelled to buy negotiable certificates of deposit.

The Harare-based Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will on Nov. 6 offer $30 million worth of 91-day Treasury bills after after two failed offerings and one partially successful sale last month. The sales are the first since 2008, shortly before the country abandoned its currency in favor of the dollar in a bid to curb an inflation rate that had risen to 500 billion percent, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“I am giving the banks sector the last chance to fully support the Treasury bills,” Biti, 46, said in a Nov. 3 interview in the northwestern resort town of Victoria Falls. “If they don’t support it, I will issue NCDs and that’s it.”

Biti and the central bank are trying to kick-start the country’s capital markets after a decade-long recession ended in 2009 after the 15-nation Southern African Democratic Community negotiated a settlement that ended a political dispute. A coalition government between President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the Movement for Democratic Change of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was then formed.

On Oct. 26, the central bank offered $15 million of the securities of which $9.9 million were sold at an average yield of 8.51 percent. The bank rejected all bids at attempted sales on Oct. 4 and Oct. 24.

Barclays, Nedbank

The plan to restart the bill sales was announced in July by Gideon Gono, the central bank governor. Zimbabwe lacks a benchmark interest rate. The weighted average lending rate for private banks ranged from 14 percent to 20 percent in the four months through July 31, Gono said in a midyear monetary policy statement.

Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd. is the biggest lender by market value on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange with a capitalization of $62 million while units of London-based Standard Chartered as well as Standard Bank (SBK) Group Ltd. and Nedbank Group Ltd. (NED), both based in Johannesburg, operate in the country. CBZ Holdings Ltd. (CBZ) is the biggest locally owned bank.

Biti is also in negotiations to secure funding to recapitalize the country’s banks and plans further regulation of the industry.

Stress Tests

In September, Global Emerging Markets, a $3.4 billion investment company with offices in London and New York, said it had proposed setting up a $1 billion fund in a venture with the finance ministry to fund banks, especially the smaller, locally owned lenders.

“There are discussions with parties, but it’s not anywhere near the $1 billion,” Biti said. “I can’t tell you the figure but, what I can say is that there are various negotiations taking place.”

Alongside any recapitalization, the Finance Ministry plans to appoint a banking ombudsman.

“We have come up with comprehensive amendments to the banking sector,” he said. “We are introducing a banking ombudsman to ensure that the consumer is protected and the amendments will also ensure mandatory stress tests. It’s a plethora of amendments that are coming.”

Biti is also in talks with South Africa’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in a bid to secure funding to help accelerate the country’s economic recovery.

No Leadership

“The South African government is firmly committed to assist us. I can’t put a figure on how much they would give us,” Biti said. “I spoke to Pravin Gordhan about two days ago and I am optimistic it would come through.”

On Nov. 2, Biti cut his forecast for Zimbabwe’s economic growth this year to 4 percent from an earlier estimate of 5.6 percent, citing a smaller-than-expected crop harvest.

Zimbabwe’s recession was triggered by the start of a program of seizing of white-owned commercial farms in 2000. That slashed exports of crops including tobacco and roses and turned the country into a corn importer. A new program compelling mining companies to cede 51 percent of their assets to black Zimbabweans has hindered investment in the world’s second- biggest platinum reserves.

“There are no signs that we are providing sufficient leadership,” Biti said. “You can’t continue doing things over and over again. There has to be a paradigm shift or else we will continue limping.”

Government revenue won’t be able to meet annual budget requirements of $3.4 billion to $3.8 billion, he said.

‘There is so much demand against the state and its not possible to meet the demands,’’ he said. The economy is a crumb against developmental needs of the country.’’


Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere on Wednesday went berserk shouting unprintable words when quizzed about his contrasting position with that of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono over the country’s empowerment programme.

Kasukuwere’s reaction signalled simmering tension between the two top government bureaucrats.

He even went a step further by verbally assaulting NewsDay journalists covering a different story on the performance of his somewhat crumbling business empire.

After he was asked whether his ministry would consider an empowerment model proposed by Gono, Kasukuwere suddenly sprang into action interjecting the reporters before exploding in anger.

The Zanu PF deputy secretary for youth in the politburo then ordered the journalists to leave his ComOil office along Selous Avenue in Harare.

“F***k you, I have no interest in that. You don’t ask me about the governor (Gono)! Get out of my office! Get out of my office! Get out now! I do not want to talk about those things. No! No! Get out! Get out! You do not come here to ask me about the governor. Get out!” Kasukuwere shouted.

Kasukuwere, who later calmed down, only agreed to proceed with the half-hour-long interview after the reporters agreed to drop the subject.

He then blamed “economic sanctions and foreign-owned banks” for not adequately supporting agriculture.

Gono has on several occasions clashed with Kasukuwere over the empowerment model he was using to compel foreign-owned firms to dispose of 51% shareholding to locals.

The central bank governor argues that a blanket approach to the programme will not be broad-based, a position Kasukuwere opposes.

But Kasukuwere yesterday said: “I will push it very vigorously because of what I have gone through as an individual.”

He again took a swipe at foreign-owned banks Standard Chartered, Barclays and Stanbic for not lending to farmers and upcoming businesspeople.

“Standard Bank, how many farmers have they supported? Barclays, how many? Stanbic, how many farmers have they supported? All the farmers (70%) have been supported by CBZ and when CBZ starts having problems everyone goes to the market saying that the bank is about to collapse and they enjoy it.

Banks (foreign) are safe because they deny you funding, they are safe because they are waiting for the kill, so we have got to transform them,” Kasukuwere said.

In a bid to calm jittery investors, Gono recently argued that a supply-chain based economic empowerment model would stimulate economic growth rather than grabbing companies. The governor has also vowed to defend banking institutions from arbitrarily takeovers.

“We are concerned as a central bank that while great attention is being paid to the equity approach, very little, if any, attention is being paid to the empowerment side of things although the law provides for it,” Gono said.


MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai says his party is totally opposed to the indigenisation and economic empowerment drive that seeks to transfer wealth to previously disadvantaged Zimbabweans.

Government is implementing the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, which compels foreign-owned companies to cede 51 percent stake to indigenous Zimbabweans.

Addressing a rally at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera yesterday, Mr Tsvangirai said in place of the indigenisation policy, MDC-T intended to attract foreign investment to create jobs for Zimbabweans.

“We are totally opposed to this programme being undertaken by (Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Saviour) Kasukuwere and Zanu-PF,” said Mr Tsvangirai.

“There are some people who are moving around saying: ‘indigenisation, indigenisation’. How can you implement a party programme wakavanda neGovernment?

“Ours is a job plan. We cannot have a society where 90 percent of our children are not employed.

“Our plan is of jobs and starts by encouraging investment. Our plan is not to take from Peter to pay Paul. We cannot have another situation like what happened with the land reform, taking away from a few whites and giving to a few blacks.”

Mr Tsvangirai’s remarks come barely three days after President Mugabe officially launched the Chegutu-Mhondoro-Ngezi-Zvimba Community Share Ownership Trust at Zimplats. The platinum mining giant unveiled $10million to be used in community development projects.

The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces urged foreign investors to respect Government’s policy to empower its Mr Tsvangirai and MDC-T ministers did not attend the launch, save for Mr Tongai Mathuthu, a deputy minister in the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment.

It is this ministry that is implementing empowerment regulations through Minister Kasukuwere.

MDC-T last week announced that it was launching an ‘empowerment’ programmme known as Investment, Jobs and Upliftment.

The programme is a direct challenge to the indigenisation and economic programme being implemented by the inclusive Government.

While the inclusive Government policy emphasises on ownership of companies by indigenous people, MDC-T wants locals to remain mere workers.

At Zimplats last Thursday, President Mugabe said the indigenisation and economic empowerment programme was in response to the previous exclusion of indigenous people from mainstream economic activity by the colonial regime.

“The policy seeks to broaden the economic base by involving the majority indigenous Zimbabweans in meaningful and gainful economic activity, thus giving greater meaning to our independence and self- determination,” he said.

“The majority shareholding underlines the principle of sovereign ownership by the State, on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe of the natural resources of the land.

“It restores the identity of the indigenous people as the rightful owners of the land and its resources.”

At the Rudhaka rally, Mr Tsvangirai spoke about the forthcoming national elections and violence, which he said should be addressed nationally and internationally.

A fortnight ago, President Mugabe said the highest decision-making bodies in Zanu-PF and the MDC formations should meet ahead of elections to digest the issue of political violence to ensure that the polls are held in a peaceful and conducive environment.

Mr Tsvangirai, who accused Zanu-PF of perpetrating violence in previous polls, said he did not need to campaign to win the elections.

He vowed never to agree again to an inclusive political arrangement like the one brokered by Sadc where Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations are in an inclusive Government.

President Mugabe has also raised concern over the discord in the inclusive Government and indicated that elections could be held not later than March next year.


Zimbabwe ministers said the country would not suspend any mining permits and that exceptions may be made to laws requiring foreign miners to give majority stakes to locals, bringing relief but no clarity to a policy that has alarmed investors.

The remarks by the mines minister and the empowerment minister at a mining conference come after most foreign operators appear to have bowed to government pressure on the issue, though details of deals struck remain clouded.

The recent empowerment law, signed in 2008, requires foreign miners to transfer 51 percent equity stakes in local entities to black investors. In August several companies received letters directing them to submit new plans within 14 days or risk losing their licences.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu told the conference in Harare that the government did not intend to cancel any permits.

“We have no intention of cancelling any licences. There are some negotiations taking place with some parties. No licence has been cancelled. We have no such intention,” he said.

While investors in the country with world’s second-largest platinum reserves may welcome the comments, the abrupt change in tone will keep them guessing and reinforces the impression that the policy has been ad-hoc and based on brinkmanship.

Companies that have felt the heat have included Zimplats , 87 percent-owned by Impala Platinum, the world’s second-largest platinum producer, and Canada’s Caledonia Mining Corporation.

Both have so far survived threats to have their mining licences revoked for failure to comply with the new ownership law.

The charm offensive was maintained by Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who has been the face of the mine ownership drive by President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF Party.

“With the mining industry, we’ve had our running battles, but now we’ve made tremendous progress,” he said.

“When there are exceptional circumstances, we’ll look at those circumstances in a manner that allows our country to move forward. We are aware of the capital requirements in mining; we are alive to those realities,” he told the conference.

Analysts have maintained that those “capital requirements” could force the government’s hand. Impoverished Zimbabwe simply has no money, private or public, to buy majority stakes in mining operations, nor the cash to keep them running.

Companies have said they will not get a viable return on their investments in Zimbabwe if they do not have majority stakes. The chief executive of Implats said in August that “51 percent equity just does not work”.

Analysts also see the law as a way for Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party to get badly needed funds ahead of elections scheduled for next year.

The stakes are extremely high. Zimplats, for example, accounts for about 10 percent of Implats’ roughly 1.8 million ounces of platinum production per year.


Zimbabwean Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere was quoted Tuesday as saying he has canceled the operating license of gold producer Blanket Mine and ordered the company to halt operations. But the Ministry of Mines, which licensed the mining firm, says it  has no knowledge of any such move against the Gwanda, Matabeleland South, company.

Indigenization Ministry Legal Adviser Psychology Mazivisa said Blanket did not comply with orders from the government to submit a plan providing for the transfer of a 51 percent controlling stake to indigenous Zimbabwean investors.

Mazivisa said Blanket Mine should cease operations while the government is engaging its owners, Caledonia Mining Corp. of Canada.

Sources said operations continued at the mine.

Mazivisa dismissed reports saying the ministry agreed to reinstate the license after meeting with mine executives, pending the re-submission of indigenization plans conforming to law.

Blanket Mine is one of several companies that were recently given from one to two weeks to submit new plans for indigenization or lose their licenses.

Mazivisa said the mine should obey the order to halt works.

But Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said his ministry has taken no action against Blanket.

Caledonia Mining Corp. Chief Executive Stefan Hayden, reached in Johannesburg, said Blanket is revising its plan for indigenization while continuing to operate.


Continued discord within the inclusive government, especially on its economic policies, confuses the world.

President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU (PF) party are grudgingly saying they want to grab all European Union companies operating in the country.

The aging Zimbabwean leader says they are doing this in the name of the Indigenisation and empowerment policy.

If ZANU (PF) wants to seize 400 companies owned by the EU, how many black indigenous people will benefit and exactly who are those people that stand to take over functioning businesses?

On the other hand Prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC party are saying the country is a safe investment destination, dismissing Mugabe’s statements as political.

Economic development and Investment promotion Minister Tapiwa Mashakada (MDC) said last month, before the Euro money investment conference aimed at attracting foreign investment in the country, that calls to grab EU companies was a ZANU(PF) position which was never discussed in cabinet.

Mugabe snubbed the investment conference in fear of facing the Europeans whom he last week shouted at.

His abandonment of the conference leaves much to be desired and the people of Zimbabwe are definitely not ignorant – they know Mugabe and his cronies want to again loot foreign-owned wealth.

Such conflicting and contradicting statements coming from people in the same government really confuses us at home and the rest of the world.

Under investment uncertainties investors should not be blamed for taking a wait and see attitude. But who benefits or loses if investors bring their investment in Zimbabwe?

ZANU (PF) politicians should really stop playing with the masses. They should not play politics with people’s lives.


Zimbabwe’s Youth Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere on Wednesday ordered boisterous Zanu (PF) youths to invade sugar conglomerates Triangle and Hippo Valley over a land dispute.

“These companies think we are still in Rhodesia. They think we owe them something. We spared them fearing sugar shortages and hoping they will reform, but we hear they are denying the youths farming land,” Kasukuwere told a meeting of indigenisation stakeholders and Zanu (PF) youths held at the Masvingo Polytechnic College here.

“This time, they are no sacred cows, if they again deny you access to the lucrative sugar industry, go and invade them, invade their plots and offices. We should have taken more sugar production land in 2000.

“The journey has begun, and there is no turning back. Our resources make sense if they are in our hands. We cannot be strangers at our own wedding. Kick them out. It is better for one black person, his wife and relatives to benefit, not one white individual,” Kasukuwere said, much to the applause of the youths, most of who were bussed from rural areas.”

He added; “Triangle and Hippo Valley’s arrogance is a cause of concern. We had to write to them after they ignored our indigenisation requests. We are going to deal with them this time around.”

But Triangle Limited chief executive officer Loyd Mutsambiwa, when called for a comment, refuted allegations that they are denying local access to farming land.

Mutsambiwa refused to comment further, citing politics in the issue.

The order by Kasukuwere comes barely a month after President Robert Mugabe threatened the conglomerates over the same dispute. He had warned the conglomerates he would send Rural Resettlement Minister Herbert Murerwa and Masvingo Governor Titus Maluleke to deal with them if the land dispute was not resolved. Mugabe has also warned to take over foreign-owned firms if sanctions against Zimbabwe remained in place.

Meanwhile some in Karoi Zanu (PF) youths blocked and hijacked a funeral for a party member on Wednesday causing commotion in this farming town.

The funeral procession of Aaron Tsongora lasted three hours when drunk youths carried the deceased body from the home in Chikangwe suburb where mourners were gathered to the beer hall where he was struck with a brick on Christmas eve. The youths who were wearing party regalia carried the coffin, toyi-toying bringing business to a halt before taking it to the cemetery.

“The party youth hijacked this funeral because as a family we are against  politicisation of death,” said a family member.

Tsongora, aged 31 was part of a ‘terror gang’ here involved in looting and violence. Last December he was among five youths in Karoi accused of selling party cards at an inflated price of US$13 instead of just a dollar. The case was never reported to police.


President Robert Mugabe said on Thursday that foreign investors should embrace Zimbabwe’s equity laws which require them to sell 51 percent stakes to locals or “stay out”.

“Our resources are ours, they belong to Zimbabweans, they belong to the sons and daughters of Zimbabwe and those who want to share our resources must get our permission to do so,” Mugabe told mourners at the burial of a stalwart from his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party in the capital.

“We must agree that they (investors) come as partners, and come as partners in a manner which we define and not in the manner which they define.

“Some would say we will lose investment. Which investment? If people don?t want to come on those terms then let them stay out, they are not good for us.”

Mugabe said some Western-owned firms from countries whose governments have imposed sanctions on himself and close associates were keen to invest in the southern African nation.

“Our true friends are eager to come and in fact, even companies from those countries which today have sanctions on us are asking to be accommodated,” he said.

The new law took effect on March 1, requiring large foreign corporations to give majority stakes to local shareholders.

The government had given firms 45 days to report their efforts at complying, but the deadline was extended indefinitely.

The government also dropped the term “cede” from the law and replaced it with “business transaction”, which was welcomed by foreign embassies although they still expressed reservations.

The empowerment law has raised divisions in the coalition government with Mugabe’s former long-time rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who has said that the new legislation scares off investors.

However, Mugabe said the investors should only come on Zimbabwe’s terms.

“They are just not good for us, those who want to come on terms to dominate us,” he said.

Some of the foreign firms operating in the country include British Petroleum, Total, Chevron, Barclays Bank, Standard Chartered and platinum giant Zimplats.