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RBZ starts on-spot checks

Godfrey Marawanyika/Shakeman Mugari

IT’S D-Day for Zimbabwe’s banks and building societies as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) today starts on-the-spot inspections of the country’s 40

financial institutions to ascertain their compliance with the new capital requirements.

This comes hard on the heels of RBZ governor Gideon Gono and acting Finance minister Herbert Murerwa’s departure this week for the United States to meet International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials in a last-ditch bid to prevent Zimbabwe’s expulsion from the fund.

The two will meet IMF directors on the sidelines of the winter meetings being held in Washington DC. Analysts have said it’s a mission impossible.

There have been reports that nine institutions are unlikely to meet the new capital requirements set by the central bank earlier this year.

RBZ teams will today start on-the-spot inspections to weed out institutions that have failed to meet the minimum capital requirements. Those found inadequately capitalised could be forced to merge under the Troubled Banks Resolution Strategy to be launched this month.

Before his departure for Washington midweek Gono said the deadline would not translate into a “free-fall Armageddon” for the banking sector.

While in Washington, Gono and Murerwa are expected to plead with the IMF not to expel Zimbabwe from the fund. The closure of the IMF’s offices in Harare and the country’s arrears are some of the sticking issues that should be on the agenda.

Zimbabwe owes the IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDR) $188 million.

It was not immediately possible to ascertain how long Murerwa will be in Washington but Gono is expected to be out of his office for a fortnight, which technically postpones the deadline for the troubled banks.

Analysts say government’s inconsistent economic policies are likely to scuttle Gono’s desperate efforts to convince the IMF directors. They note that there is a clear gulf between what Gono is pushing for and what Mugabe wants.

Mugabe lashed out at the IMF last week, accusing it of telling lies about Zimbabwe, in his speech to the UN General Assembly.

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