By Mernat Mafirakurewa and Bernard Mpofu
Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere on Wednesday went berserk shouting unprintable words when quizzed about his contrasting position with that of central bank 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. NewsDay