“No report on Chihombori’s project, IFC September 23, 2009 – Mutumwa Mawere – No response”. You can get my response
Since I have no personal kn owledge on the alleged Project 9856 that was purportedly approved by IFC, it would be unfair for me to comment. Having read the above article, I now understand the true nature of the allegation being made.
It is being alleged that to the extent that Dr. Chihombori at a meeting of non-resident Zimbabweans (NRZ) held in Washington DC in December 1996 pledged to invest in Zimbabwe, then it follows that the funds allegedly provided by IFC for a project promoted by Dr. Chihombori were diverted to make good on the pledge.
It is, therefore, important to set the timeframe in context as it is always easy to rewrite history for political expediency. It is not in dispute that Dr. Chihombori was one of many who attended an investment promotion meeting hosted by Africa Resources Investments Limited (ARIL) as an initiative to encourage NRZs to consider investing in Zimbabwe.
This initiative was in response to a call by many NRZs who wanted to know what opportunities existed for investment at home. They were also concerned about the attitude of the government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) to investment by NRZs as they were about the risk of losing out on any potential privatization deals.
To this end, the then Ambassador of Zimbabwe to the USA, H.E. Amos Midzi, participated at the conference. In addition, Hon Mnangagwa who happened to be in vocation also graced the occasion and provided his input.
At the time, we were promoting the establishment of a bank and also contemplating the listing of some of the industrial companies under the control of my holding company, Africa Resources Limited (ARL).
The fund, ARIL, was a closed-end fund who se offer to the public closed in July 1997. The launch of the fund was in August 1997. For your information, the bank project was realized with the establishment of First Bank in November 1997. The companies that we planned to list were also listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in 1997.
The listing of First Bank followed later. What is significant is that through the listing retail investors were provided with an opportunity to invest in the institutions that ARL controlled. You will be aware that when the GOZ decided in September to place the control and administration of ARL’s Zimbabwean assets, 7 listed companies were under its control.
Your article states that the project promoted by Dr. Chihombori was approved by IFC in 1999 or two years after the ARIL private placement of shares had closed. How then can one make the malicious statement that funds purportedly disbursed in 1999 could have been diverted to fund an initiative whose offer to the public closed 2 years earlier?
The timeline clearly shows that there was no way any funds could have been diverted retr ospectively.
Given the facts of the matter one would naturally have expected the author of these articles to do some research and work out the timeline to independently confirm that the two events were unrelated. At the time when BMC allegedly secured the IFC financing, the projects under the ARIL umbrella had already been implemented.
Yes, Dr. Chihombori was appointed to the inaugural board of directors of First Bank and not Mawere’s First Banking Corporation as stated above. You=2 0will appreciate that a company has a separate and distinct existence from its shareholders and it would be wrong to characterize a bank as belonging to a shareholder.
First Bank was registered as a bank and its shareholders were a matter of public record. You will be aware that I was never a shareholder in my personal capacity but through companies in which I held shares. Equally, Zanu-PF was not a shareholder of the bank as the records will confirm. Rather corporate entities in which ZANU-PF may have had a beneficial interest were shareholders in the bank.
Any bank like any company succeeds or failure on the back of customer support underpinned by service. First Bank operated like all other institutions set up for the purpose and was listed on the ZSE providing an avenue for retail investors to be part of the solution. The bank remains listed and operational confirming that the vision of the founders was not misplaced.
There are20people who doubted that indigenous people can set up their own institutions. First Bank was one of many institutions formed in post-colonial Zimbabwe that confirms that it is not necessary to20nationalize companies when one can set up his/her own.
There is nothing sinister or inconsistent with what Dr. Chihombori said on camera in 1996 and her decision to approach IFC to help finance a project that she was promoting. After all IFC was established precisely to bridge financing gaps similar to the challenges that BMC may have faced at the time.
I do hope that this line of journalism will come to an end in the interests of progress. I am not entirely clear what the ultimate objective of the exercise is but what is evident is that no obvious legitimate interest is being served.