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MP Chapfika exposed

Ngoni Chanakira

BUSINESS leaders say Zanu PF MP for Mutoko North David Chapfika should be the last person to scream about Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) bosses being rem

oved from their lucrative jobs because he is a key player in the whole cash fiasco.

Zimbabwe Economics Society president Lovemore Kadenge and Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce policy and advocacy manager James Jowa blasted Chapfika, saying he was overlooking the fact that the RBZ was “not autonomous and its hands are tied by government”.

Kadenge, an economic consultant, said Chapfika seems unaware that he is indirectly also calling for Finance and Economic Development minister Herbert Murerwa’s head.

Jowa, on the other hand, pointed out that government was simply “passing the buck on the cash crisis because they are trying to exonerate themselves from their economic mismanagement”.

Chapfika and Zanu PF MP for Murewa North Victor Chitongo on Tuesday recommended to parliament that all RBZ bosses be sacked because they had failed Zimbabwe.

In their contributions to debate on President Robert Mugabe’s parliamentary address, the two legislators said the RBZ needed new brains.

“These are issues that are dealt with by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Herbert Murerwa,” Kadenge said in an interview.

“It is surprising and disheartening to have such statements coming from the honourable MP who chairs parliament’s Finance Committee which deals directly with the issues raised. Is Chapfika, therefore, saying that he has failed to do his job too?”

Jowa said: “Government has mismanaged the economy and is now just trying to exonerate itself. The RBZ governor is just a stooge. He gets directives from government which should take the blame for the current cash crisis.”

Chitongo, a journalist, and Chapfika, a banker, are prominent businessmen-turned-politicians with a strong influence in Mashonaland East.

Chapfika said the RBZ’s Monitoring and Supervisory Department had done government a “disservice and required re-orientation on critical economic fundamentals”.

In a follow-up interview on the issue yesterday, Chapfika told businessdigest that while he was chairman of parliament’s Finance Committee, he could not do the work of the RBZ.

“We are very unhappy about their performance,” he said.

“I was not scolding them at all but si-mply telling them that they needed to pull up their socks. They are always complaining and saying that their hands are tied. Tied by whom?”

Chapfika was executive director of the collapsed Universal Merchant Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd (Unibank) where, Jowa and Kadenge point out, “critical economic fundamentals were thrown out of the window”.

Unibank, launched amid much pomp and fanfare in Harare and Bulawayo, was the second indigenous financial disaster in Zimbabwe after the collapse of Roger Boka’s United Merchant Bank (UMB).

Tycoon Boka’s UMB sent the country’s banking sector into turmoil when it issued fake Cold Storage Commission (CSC) Bills worth billions of dollars to unsuspecting institutions.

When the scandal was unearthed, Boka’s generous facility, which had become a “take-away for the who is who in Zimbabwe” was shut down immediately.

CFX Merchant Bank Ltd (CFX) then snapped up Unibank in April 2002 after “gross inefficiency and financial mismanagement had been unraveled at the institution”.

In its audited financial statement for the year ended December 31 2002, CFX said it had taken over an “accumulated loss of nearly $800 million from Universal Merchant Bank Zimbabwe Ltd”.

When Unibank was swallowed by CFX, all directors, including Chapfika, resigned and shareholders appointed new management who immediately chalked up $1,9 billion in profit.

The company has continued to grow ever since.

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