ZIMBABWEAN judges have been left in a quandary and risk being dragged before the courts for defaulting on servicing personal loans, which they accessed from a South African-owned financial institution.
The judges, who accessed personal loans from MBCA Bank, whose majority shareholder is South Africa’s Nedbank Group, have accumulated loan arrears with the bank, owing to the failure by the government-run Salary Service Bureau (SSB), which processes monthly salaries for judges and civil servants, to remit deductions on the judges’ earnings.
So desperate is MBCA Bank that the financial services firm’s representatives had to convene a meeting with the judges.
Information gleaned by African Independent indicates that during the meeting held between MBCA Bank officials, Caroline Mutseka, the branch credit analyst, and the enquiries officer, only identified as Tapera, and representatives of the Zimbabwe Judges’ Association (Zija), it was revealed that judges owed the bank arrears of between $416 to $1 764.
Tapera and Mutseka said they had already communicated the bank’s predicament to Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, whom they indicated “is equally affected and concerned”.
MBCA Bank had exercised restraint in not instituting legal action against the judges as dictated by the bank’s regulations.
“The bank is controlled from both Zimbabwe and South Africa. The South African side does not appreciate or understand the situation obtaining locally,” reads part of a summary of minutes from the meeting. Tapera and Mutseka warned the judges, who were represented at the meeting by High Court judges, Justices Lavender Makoni and Joseph Mafusire, that they could no longer access top-up loans or mortgage facilities.
“The arrears affect the credit ratings of individual judges. The bank’s request is for the judges to assist in getting the SSB to remit the outstanding deductions.”
In response, the judges’ representatives said the situation was beyond their control and the judicial officers were not in the know as there had been no official communication from their employer about the non-remittance of the deductions from their salaries.
Makoni and Mafusire pleaded with Tapera and Mutseka to convince their South African shareholders so as not to be blacklisted from accessing other loan facilities and pledged to honour the repayments in their individual capacities once the SSB terminated the deductions.
“Judges guard jealously against their honour and integrity,” the Zija representatives, who also begged the bank to allow them access to the top-up loans and mortgage facilities, said.
The bank officials and judges’ representatives resolved that the judges would now be individually responsible for their loan repayments once the SSB cancelled the deductions from their salaries.
Apart from judges, most government employees have been left exposed to litigation owing to the failure by their employer to remit deductions to fulfil loan repayment obligations. This has left various institutions exposed while others could go bankrupt.