CBZ is the biggest bank in the country where the government remits salaries for all civil servants for forward transmission to other financial institutions and when it sneezes the whole banking sector catches a cold. Most banks, including the big ones, are reeling under liquidity crunch.
Preliminary investigations by our Investigative Desk indicate that since October last year, POSB (formerly the Post Office Savings Bank) has been having nightmares in getting government salaries from CBZ resulting in complications in the manner in which its clients access salaries and pensions.
POSB handles 344 000 accounts for civil servants, among them government pensioners, war veterans, members of the state security and others.
During the same month last year, it has emerged, CBZ reportedly failed to transfer all the government salaries via the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) forcing them to pay partly in cash.
When the funds were finally transferred, it posed hitches in POSB’s outlying branches because the funds are moved from the main cash centres in Harare and Bulawayo.
It has since been established that last November, it was the same scenario forcing POSB to utilise its resources to partly fund withdrawal requirements from government employees and pensioners.
During December, investigations further show, the problem persisted and was exacerbated by the fact that all civil servants except teachers got their bonuses that month.
It emerged POSB resources were inadequate to cater for the resultant deficit, hence some clients went for the Christmas holidays without salaries.
At one time, POSB was forced to borrow from other banks including Standard Chartered, Metropolitan and Stanbic at a premium to patch over the cracks.
Impeccable sources said as at January 23, CBZ owed POSB, which opened its doors to the public in January 1905 and has never been placed under regulatory sanctions, $8,6 million in civil servants salaries.
“Given the above problems, which affect POSB’s reputation as well as compromising liquidity, the proposal was that since POSB holds a significant amount of civil servants’ salaries, the government should operate an active account with it from SSB (Salary Services Bureau) and pensions’ salaries for all members paid through POSB would be deducted,” a source said.
“An account held at POSB, operated by the government and funded to this level, will enhance efficiency in salary payments to customers as there will be no dependency on another financial institution that happens to be competing for the same clients.
“This will result in POSB being able to plan for the salary days unlike the current set-up where it has to follow CBZ plans which results in inefficiency and inconvenience to both the client and POSB.”
Efforts to speak to CBZ Bank chief executive John Mangudya failed as his mobile went unanswered, while his office said he was in meetings.
On the slow processing of RTGS transactions, CBZ early this week issued a statement saying: “The bank advises its valued customers and the banking public in general, that measures have been put in place to maintain the bank’s normal turnaround times in processing customer payments”.
Investigations revealed that last month was the worst for POSB as the salaries for education and civil servants were not funded by CBZ on time. Discussions have since been held between POSB, SSB, Government Pensions Office and the Reserve Bank on the way forward.