HomeNewsBank manager flees clients

Bank manager flees clients

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…as cash crunch bites

A METROPOLITAN Bank branch manager in Mutare fled for dear life and sought refuge at a police station after scores of angry bank clients turned violent after failing to access their money, it has emerged.

OBEY MANAYITI,STAFF REPORTER

The angry depositors besieged Mutare Central Police Station baying for the blood of the manager, identified as Ephraim Manjengwa.

After chaos broke out at the bank’s Mutare branch, police intervened and rescued Manjengwa and took him to the police station for safety with disgruntled clients in tow. They accused the bank’s management of giving them endless excuses whenever they sought to withdraw their money. A NewsDay reporter witnessed the drama.

This came as the cash squeeze continues to bite with no end in sight. Smaller financial institutions have been hit the hardest by the persistent cash crunch in the
country.

One of the demonstrators, Don Mazandane, charged: “We decided to come here to open a docket against this bank. They are holding the manager, but we will not leave here until we get satisfactory answers. The whole administration of Metropolitan Bank must be arrested. Every single day I come intending to withdraw my money, but I am given excuses. My brother’s son was in hospital and he needed money to be operated. Because of this insensitivity, I couldn’t access my money and he eventually died.”

Some of the demonstrators said the cash crisis had strained their relationships with landlords over unpaid rentals.

In Harare yesterday, AfrAsia Kingdom Zimbabwe Limited (AKZL)’s banking unit placed a maximum withdrawal limit of $50, barely a week after shareholders approved the bank’s recapitalisation exercise.

When a NewsDay crew visited the bank’s branch at Karigamombe Arcade, some clients intending to make withdrawals said they were advised to wait for deposits before the bank could dispense the cash.

The bank’s automated teller machines which were working up to lunchtime could not dispense cash when the news crew visited the bank later in the day.

Strenuous efforts to get a comment from AKZL group chief executive officer Lynn Mukonoweshuro were fruitless as she was not picking up her mobile phone last night.

The cash crises have affected most businesses with some companies contemplating shutting down or retrench staff.

Experts say large commercial banks with strong shareholder support have, however, managed to weather the storm at a time when small banks, predominantly locally-owned, were facing viability problems due to high levels of non-performing loans. According to a banking sector survey carried out by a local brokerage and advisory firm, bad debt constituted 13,8% of the $3,67 billion loan book as at June 30.

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