Zimbabwean Indigenization Minister Francis Nhema.

Harare - Three foreign banks operating in Zimbabwe have complied with the country’s local ownership law while government talks with other banks on the legislation continue, Indigenization Minister Francis Nhema said.

“We have explained to them our empowerment laws,” Nhema said in an interview today in the capital, Harare.

“There is no problem with our empowerment laws. I’m not changing the empowerment law.”

Under Zimbabwean law, foreign and white-owned companies with assets of more than $500,000 must cede or sell a 51 percent stake to black nationals or the country’s National Economic Empowerment Board.

Nhema’s remarks contradict an April statement by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa that the government will not force all companies to comply and would rather work on an industry-specific approach.

“Some companies which had pulled out of Zimbabwe a long time ago, such as Pepsi Cola, now want to come back,” Nhema said.

“The perception out there is that the law only benefits a few, but this is the wrong perception.”

Foreign banks operating in Zimbabwe include Barclays, Standard Chartered, Standard Bank, Nedbank, Ecobank and Bank ABC.

Nhema declined to name the banks that have complied with the local ownership laws.

Mining companies including Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum have already had indigenization plans accepted by the government. - Bloomberg News