President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the government’s recent adoption of tough economic measures was in response to the wayward behaviour of some economic players which had led to sharp price increases and exchange rate volatility.
In May, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) ordered banks to temporarily stop lending and also introduced a forex transaction tax.
Recently, the central bank increased interest rates to 200 per cent to curb speculative borrowing and announced the planned introduction of gold coins to ease US dollar demand.
President Mnangagwa had a meeting with the business community dubbed “Listening President Business Luncheon” in Kwekwe on Friday.
Responding to a contribution by Dendairy managing director, Darren Coetzee, who had complained about RBZ raising its main policy rate to 200 per cent, Mnangagwa said:
You complained about the 200 per cent interest rate. It’s intended to cure misbehaviour by the financial sector.
Banks were formed to lend to people, but they engaged in mischief that was affecting the economy.
We closed lending for eight days and within those days we discovered the rot in the banks. Out of the 16 banks, only four passed the test. Others were in deep corruption.
After we found the rot in the banking sector, there were two possibilities, one to expose them and the other to punish them.
We could not punish them because you (clients) were going to withdraw all your money from those banks and they would fold.
So, the banks pleaded with us to just punish them outside of the eyes of the public and that is what we are doing to them.
Mnangagwa said people should focus on what he called the good things which his government has done instead of crying about challenges. He added:
Some of the policies are aimed at protecting the members of the public from mischievous individuals and syndicates sabotaging the people’s way of life.
When we said ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’, we didn’t say it’s open to mischief or corruption.
But there are people, a sizable number of people in the economy who are mischievous and we are putting in place measures to stop them.