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Bank seeks Mugabe intervention


Time Bank Limited has appealed to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono to engage President Robert Mugabe over a long-standing dispute over the institution’s assets being held by the central bank.

In a letter written to Gono and copied to Finance minister Tendai Biti, former Time Bank curator Tinashe Rwodzi, as well as the bank’s lawyers, Time Bank managing director Takura Tande appealed to Gono to ask Mugabe for a solution to the matter after the RBZ failed to surrender the bank’s assets seized nearly 10 years ago when it was placed under curatorship.

The letter dated July 10 was a follow up to another letter written by the bank to the registrar of banks in May demanding some of the assets.

Delays by the central bank in handing over Time Bank’s vital assets and computer system worth $3 million, according to Tande, were scuttling the bank’s plans to resume operations as a commercial bank.

Tande said several intiatives to resolve the issue failed. He expressed surprise to Gono’s stance to resolve “issues of foreign banks without resolving Time Bank’s issues as well”.

“I refer to the news articles in both the NewsDay and Daily News of 4 July 2012 which stated that you shall be meeting His Excellency President Robert Mugabe to discuss the disputes in the banking sector, in particular the indigenisation of foreign-owned banks,” reads part of the letter.

“We request you put the issues of Time Bank on the same agenda when you discuss the issue of foreign-owned banks with the State President.”
Tande criticised Gono for vowing to fight against arbitrary takeovers of foreign banks when the central bank was failing to grant Time Bank its assets.

Turning to the contentious issue of indigenisation regulations compelling foreign-owned banking institutions to dispose of 51% stakes to locals, Tande said: “Our principled position is that share transfers in any business including banks, should be done on a willing-seller, willing buyer basis, and if there is compulsory acquisition, then there must be appropriate compensation.

“I pioneered commercial banking as a private sector investment without demanding shares in existing foreign banks but I am being denied access to my assets by the RBZ.

“The RBZ, in recent news articles, admits that the banking sector is sensitive, yet there is nothing that is more sensitive to a bank than its computer system.

“This is clear disempowerment of a pioneer.”

Time bank was placed under custodianship in 2004 and in 2009, RBZ agreed to restore the bank’s operating licence after the administrative court ruled that its 2004 closure was illegal.

Efforts to get a comment from RBZ were in vain at the time of going to Press yesterday.

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