PANIC cash withdraws have gripped some Barclays Bank branches in Lusaka after customers opted to transfer their assets to other financial institutions following reports that the bank would exit its African operations.
But Barclays Bank of Zambia (BBZ) head of marketing and corporate relations Mato Shimabale said in an interview yesterday that the official position was that the bank’s operations in Africa and Zambia remained unchanged.
He said the bank has continued to engage with customers reinforcing the message at different intervals and reiterated that the bank operations in Africa as well as Zambia will continue to operate normally.
He said the bank was one of the top financial institutions in Africa having a balance sheet of one trillion South African rand and over US$66 billion in assets and reaffirmed that the shareholding will not affect its operations.
“We will continue to sensitise our customers through various forums so that they have a full understanding and we continue to reaffirm that operations in Africa and Zambia in particular remain unchanged,” he said.
A customer spoken to on condition of anonymity said that she was fearful that she might lose her money and opted to withdraw it all for now.
“While BBZ claims its clientele remains unaffected but reality is that most of our Zambian sisters and brothers will be laid off as the bank will be restructured and they may just leave, so what happens to my savings?” she said.
But another customer Andrew Mwanza said he would continue to be loyal to the bank as he did not see cause to leave the bank.
And Bankers Association of Zambia (BAZ) executive director Leonard Mwanza said that the (BBZ) issue was an internal matter and commended the bank for coming in the open about its shareholding.
Mr Mwanza said that BBZ is one of the top performing banks in the country that possessed a strong balance sheet and a solid financial base. ‘‘There is no need for customers to panic over the shareholding; this is a normal commercial business transaction all over the world,’’ he said.
He said that there was no need for customers to panic and commended Barclays for coming in the open as this showed transparency.
Mr Mwanza said the BBZ shareholding was a normal commercial business transaction and that it was not a closure.
“As BAZ we would like to commend BBZ for coming in the open about their shareholding and their assurance. This is a normal business commercial transaction all over the world. I urge customers not to panic over the matter,” he said.
BBZ has also taken the extraordinary initiative of assuring its customers through mobile phone SMS services assuring them that operations will not be affected due to the shareholding.
“Today, Barclays PLC announced their intention to reduce their 62.3% stake in Barclays Africa over the coming two to three years. The operations of Barclays Africa across the continent including Zambia remain unchanged. As our customer, be assured of continued service as we have done for almost 100 years,” reads the message.