Zisco debt: Zimbabwe properties face auction

THE Deputy Sheriff of Cape Town will proceed to auction Zimbabwe government properties after Harare failed to defend a R400 million lawsuit by a German Bank owed money by state firm, Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco).

The six properties are in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town and will be sold by public auction on July 23, according to the German bank’s lawyers, Wertheim Becker Incorporated.
KFW Bankgruppe, a German development bank, took the government to court in a bid to recover R400 million owed by Zisco.
However, the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria has written to lawyers representing the bank indicating that two of the properties have diplomatic immunity and are not affected by the court order.
Only four properties will be sold if the two properties are proven to be protected by diplomatic immunity.
Zisco entered into a loan agreement with the German bank on January 29 1998 and was to pay off the debt in 16 instalments. Zisco however, only paid four instalments, the last one in 2002.
Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone went unanswered. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, Joey Bimha’s office promised to respond but had not done so at the time of going to print.
Government officials said MDC coalition government partners were in the dark about the properties, some of which were purchased after Independence and others inherited from the colonial government.
The Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Gorden Moyo, said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai would demand a report from the ministers of Foreign Affairs, Public Works, Finance and Justice and Legal Affairs showing a list of Zimbabwe’s properties abroad. Tsvangirai will also seek to know the debts of each ministry, said Moyo.
“It is not certain now whether there are more property attachments going to come or not but the prime minister will demand reports from the concerned ministers so that the government is aware of what is happening,” Moyo said.
He said it was difficult to ascertain the cases as individual ministries were handling the attachments separately. 
The attachment of the Johannesburg and Pretoria properties comes almost two months after South African civil rights group, Afriforum, secured a High Court writ of execution to attach four Zimbabwe government-owned properties in Cape Town.
Afriforum attached the four properties on behalf of white commercial farmers who were evicted from their land under President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land reform programme.
KFW Bankengruppe and Afriforum have agreed to share proceeds from the sale of the Cape Town properties that were initially attached by Afriforum.

Loughty Dube

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