NO ONE should be surprised that the indigenous banks should come to grief.
After all, some are like war veterans and po
liticians who illegally grabbed farms, merely an extension of the chef class which, though with perhaps only an E for Woodwork, proved to be amazingly successful plutocrats.
What is surprising is that some action has been taken. After all, it is only a few years since government first bailed out a couple of these shortcuts to wealth which the ministries chose to patronise.
One assumes that it had run out of scapegoats and had to turn upon its own guilty sort at last. And, having made importing impossible without use of the black market, it belatedly turned on businessmen who kept the economy going despite inflation for which it is entirely responsible.
Zimbabwe’s economic history has three phases:
– Marxist folly up to 1990, leading to
– IMF rescue, followed by hypocritical wasting of that help and ignoring its terms, till
– Mega-inflation, since Hitler had Zanu PF over a barrel after he had endorsed much of the looting of the liberation kitty by its top people and demanded that $4 billion which presidential powers could conjure up when a postage stamp cost 45 cents.
Do you recall that a minister admitted to filling in a claim dishonestly (she was neither physically, nor psychologically traumatised, only morally) and innocently said she did it because everyone else was doing so. She paid back the loot – about the only chef to do so.
In contrast, Geoff Nyarota was removed from the Chronicle for being “a little bit too zealous”.
It all started before that but if you are under 40 you wouldn’t know, so listen to an elder.
The biggest banking scam was the collapse of BCCI, a third world bank which offered much higher interest rates than honest first world banks till eventually it couldn’t cover losses by shifting cash around the world and crashed.
It had a branch here, half-owned by our government which, when BCCI went under, bought the wreckage for an undisclosed sum.Vast sums had been lent to the chef class which paid no interest and hadn’t made enough on its “old boy network” and from string-pulling to pay back any loan.
The bad debts were put into a suspense account and disappeared into history as the BCCI did until resurrected years later as the first indigenous bank and government’s pet.
Two more items: one boss of BCCI was demanded by the USA and ended in a Florida prison; he had reportedly been President Noriega of Panama’s money-launderer.
And Rhodesia Railways, a holding company owning property and income in Zimbabwe and Zambia including the Victoria Falls Hotel was ordered to put its millions (the US$1:$1 then) into BCCI. They disappeared. Some such depositors got something back eventually. Did RR?
So there’s nothing new except some degree of openness, unknown since the Sandura Commission. So many money scandals have been swept under mats that Zanu PF’s carpets must undulate – Noczim, VIP housing scheme and aid for boreholes among others,
Don’t tell me that these scams aren’t talked about over a whisky or witches’ brew in party structures where gossip and tips are shared.
John Citizen is the last to know of such goings-on in high places – if he ever does get to hear.
Nor does he get Pajeros and unjustified loans.