Former fugitive Banker ready to invest in Zimbabwe

Harare – One of the business tycoons forced into exile by the Zanu (PF) regime in 2004, Professor Mthuli Ncube says he is now ready to re-invest in the country.\r\n

Ncube was the Chief Executive and brains behind Barbican Bank, which was forced to shut down in 2004 by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and had its assets pooled together with Royal Bank and Trust Bank to form the Zimbabwe Allied Bank Group (ZABG) the following year.

However, the banks have since been issued with separate commercial banking licences by the RBZ.

Ncube, who was at the helm of the bank when it was formed in 2002 right through to the banking crisis in 2004, told Radio VOP on Wednesday from South Africa that the bank would re-open its doors for business in the country.

“Barbican Bank has begun the process of raising new capital so as to meet the new capital requirements. The raising process follows both a rights offer to existing shareholders and new shareholders particularly foreign investors.

“After the raising of capital, Barbican Bank will open to the public, and will re-list on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange,” he said.

Ncube, who is now the chief economist and vice-president of Africa Development Bank (AfDB), a post he assumed in February this year after serving as the Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management at Witwatersrand (Wits University) Business School in Johannesburg, South Africa, for a number of years, said he attended a Barbican board meeting in Harare on 1 November for strategising on the capital raising process.

However, he said he would step down as CEO of the bank because of his engagement with AfDB.

“Due to the fact that I have accepted the position of chief economist and vice-president of the AfDB for the next three years, I therefore will not be able to be the CEO of Barbican.

“We are currently considering a few candidates for the position of CEO, one in Zimbabwe, one in UK, and the other person in South Africa,” he said.

Ncube also spoke highly of the economic turnaround in the country, saying he was keen to make more investments in his homeland.

“In the last 12 months, I have been to Zimbabwe four times. Each time I have seen some improvement in the economy. I therefore would be keen to invest and take on new business opportunities.

“I believe the Zimbabwe economy is at a turning point and it is the right time for investment. The returns will be huge in future,” he said.

He added that the financial sector has a big role to play in reviving the country’s economy through structuring foreign credit lines and extending loans that will revive industry and stimulate new investment.

He noted that the financial sector had a role to play in increasing the number of people who are “underbanked”.

“Such financial deepening is essential for economic development, Barbican will play its part.”

Turning to AfDB, he said the institution was committed to assisting Zimbabwe and had opened an office in Harare with US$2 million committed to capacity building and collection of accurate economic and social statistics in the country.

“The role of the office is to identify opportunities, both in the private and public sector working with government, to support the Zimbabwe economic revival.

“One area where my department is involved is in capacity building of the Zimbabwe Statistical office.

“My Statistics department alone has committed US$2 million for capacity building in the collection of accurate economic and social statistics, all for better economic management. My department ran a workshop two months ago for most permanent secretaries in Government on such capacity building. We also arranged a conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a few months ago for ministers in Africa of social statistics, which I opened. Minister Kembo Mohadi (Co-Minister Home Affairs) attended,” Ncube said.

At the AfDB, Ncube took over from Louis Kasendeke, who returned to his country, Uganda, where he took up a new post as the deputy governor of the Bank of Uganda.

Trust Bank and Royal Bank are also making plans to re-open and take back their assets, while ZABG is operating as a separate entity.

According to the statement signed by RBZ governor Gideon Gono, registrar of banking institutions, Norman Mataruka, and representatives of the four banks, namely Durajadi Simba, Vincent Mancamba, Gift Shoko and Jeffrey Mzwimbi, the re-registration of the three banks was in line with the Banking Act (Chapter 24:20).

“Take notice that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has, effective 1 September 2010, issued commercial banking licences to Barbican Bank Limited, Royal Bank Zimbabwe Limited, and Trust Bank Corporation Limited.

“Further take notice that the hand-over take-over process will result in the unbundling of ZABG into four banking institutions, that is ZABG, Barbican Bank Limited, Royal Bank Zimbabwe Limited and Trust Bank Corporation Limited operating as separate banking institutions.

“For the avoidance of doubt, ZABG retains its banking licence and all outstanding litigation issues have been resolved amicably,” read part of the statement.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti recently said appropriate transitional arrangements have been put in place to ensure smooth entry of the three institutions into the financial sector while allowing ZABG to continue with its operations without disruption.

However, there were concerns in recent months after failure by some banking and financial institutions to meet the statutory minimum capital requirements.

This raised fears that some banks had not fully recovered from operational challenges and were on shaky financial ground.

Nonetheless, the central bank extended the deadline to 31 December for the financial and banking institutions that had not complied by the end of March to comply. – Radio VOP