Top stories for March 21-25


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ZANU-PF tells ANC Boers are still in control – The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front told South Africa’s ruling African National Congress that it was not in control but the Boers still were. Responding to a statement by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe that the ANC would not follow the Zimbabwe route because it was disastrous, ZANU-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said: “We have our model which we feel is the best in Africa and they have their own because they want to accommodate colonisers. For us, we suffered because of our principle, however things will change in the next few years,” Gumbo said. “They remain under the rule of the Boers, but our suffering is short-term. We have empowered our people and the fruits of empowerment are being seen.” Mantashe had said: “Look at Zimbabwe. It used to be the bread basket of Africa. Today it imports almost everything. The Zimbabwean dollar has disappeared. This economy will disappear if that is the example we want to follow.”

Reserve Bank boost
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe received a major boost today when it received US$100 million from the African Import-Export Bank to enable it to bring back the interbank-market which will also enable the central bank to influence interest rates. Lending between private banks stopped when Zimbabwe phased out the Zimbabwe dollar in 2009 resulting in the central bank losing its role of bank of last resort. Banks also faced a liquidity crisis with some banks, especially foreign-owned ones having excess cash while others, mostly indigenous, failed to meet the cash demands of their customers. Interest rates were also distorted with savings attracting as little as 0.15 percent while lending was as high as 35 percent. The new facility will allow banks to borrow from each other through the central bank which will set an overnight accommodation interest rate which would act as the benchmark for interest rates. The move could also restore the public’s confidence in the banking system as most people were opting not to bank their money because they would not get it when they wanted it.

 

New Reserve Bank governor appointed
John Mangudya, the chief executive of the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, has been appointed the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe with effect from 1 May, replacing Gideon Gono who was chief executive of the same bank before being appointed central bank governor. Charity Dhliwayo, one of the two deputies with Kupukile Mlambo at the RBZ, has been acting governor since Gono’s department in November. Mangudya worked as an economist at the Reserve Bank before joining the African Export-Import Bank as regional manager for Southern Africa. He joined CBZ as general manager for international banking in 2000 and rose through the ranks before being appointed chief executive in 2009. Mangudya joins the central bank after Afreximbank has just pumped in US$100 million into the reserve bank to resuscitate the interbank market which collapsed five years ago when the Zimbabwe phased out the Zimbabwe dollar.

 

NSSA’s blunders
The National Social Security Association which has made a series of risky investments which could cost pensioners has been dolling out cheap loans to its own staff. General Manager James Matiza admitted to the Public Accounts Parliamentary Portfolio Committee today that the authority had given out loans totalling US$23.7 million to staff including himself. The money was for personal, vehicle, educational, long service and housing loans at rates below market rates. The rates ranged from zero for educational loans to three to five percent for other loans well below the market rate of seven percent. Matiza told another committee that NSSA had invested millions in banks some of which had collapsed. It had also given the Rainbow Tourism Group in which it had a 36 percent stake US$14.3 million to settle a debt and buy furniture for Beitbridge Hotel which was considered a bad investment. NSSA also gave US$5.3 million to Star Africa Corporation, in which it has 24 percent shareholding and US$2.1 million to Masvingo City Council for infrastructure development in a suburb where it intends to build 680 houses. NSSA gave money to Royal Bank but it recovered its money when the bank went broke. It also recovered the US$25 million it lent to Metropolitan Bank but has so far not been able to recover the money it lent to Interfin because the bank is under curatorship.

 

Tsvangirai says MDC has resolved its differences
Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai today said the party had resolved its differences following a gruelling five-hour meeting of members of the National Standing Committee on Friday. Addressing après briefing in the capital, Tsvangirai said that deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma was not present because he was suspended by the national council, the party’s supreme decision-making body outside Congress, pending his appearance before an independent disciplinary tribunal. “He is still very much one of us and he is innocent until proven guilty. At the end of the day, we are a team and we will swim or sink together,” Tsvangirai said. The MDC has been in turmoil following calls for Tsvangirai to step down to allow a new leadership to prepare for the next elections in 20167 but Tsvangirai said his term only ended in 2016. Tsvangirai said after the frank heart-to-heart session on Friday “we all unanimously agreed that our disagreements in the cockpit, while confirming our credentials as a democratic party, had needlessly diverted attention from the key issues affecting the people of Zimbabwe. We had realised it was important for us to sit down as the party leadership to openly discuss and sort out our issues. I am proud to announce today that we have discussed our issues and there is now unprecedented harmony and unity of purpose in the MDC cockpit. We all agreed that we owed it to the members of the party and to the nation at large to discuss and resolve our matters so that we would be more effective in providing hope and a credible alternative to ZANU- PF. I can assure you that in those five-hours of no-holds barred discussions, we told each other the brutal but honest truth that will save this party and ensure the security of the faith and trust the people have bestowed on us.”

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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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