Britain takes credit but Masiyiwa was one of the biggest beneficiaries of Zimbabwe’s indigenisation programme


The story is also silent about the Indigenous Business Development Centre where Masiyiwa was secretary-general and took advantage of the cheap loans awarded by the government to the indigenous business sector.

According to a book by Patrick Bond, Uneven Zimbabwe, published in 1998, the IBDC was established in 1990 with its priority to access loans for small businesses. Its membership, he says,  grew from 4 000 to 8 300 by 1994.

“In 1992, the World Council of Churches Development Fund advanced a Z$30.6 million loan (and Barclays advanced Z$40 000),” Bond writes. “But controversy arose over a government budget allocation of Z$100 million to the IBDC in 1992.”

Bond says Masiyiwa did not want anyone to touch that money saying: “There are certain non-indigenous people who are frantically lobbying to be part of this money. But we will fight tooth and nail to ensure that they won’t get any cent from that money since it is us who solely went to the government begging for that money as far back as February.”

Bond says Masiyiwa was also a vigorous campaigner when commercial banks were an issue. In mid- 1992, he publicly accused Standard Chartered Bank of being “the most conservative bank when it came to dealing with indigenous people,” arguing that a century “was a very long time for the bank to start considering localising part of its external shareholding.”

He says Masiyiwa demanded that Standard Chartered Bank appoint a black chief executive: “Certainly this would be a good time for some serious management changes. Do we have to wait another one hundred years before they make a commitment to black advancement?”

Although banks ended up using the Z$100 million to settle loans by small businesses, the government gave the IBDC a further Z$400 million in January 1994.

Masiyiwa sold Retrofit in 1996 to “prevent it from being run down due to the animosity that had developed between him and his largest client, the government”.


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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