MINES minister Obert Mpofu is firmly consolidating his business interests as it emerged this week that his bank –– Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG) –– on Friday opened a new branch in Victoria Falls where his business empire is centred.
Report by Chris Muronzi
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono officiated the function, attended by other top bankers and business executives in the resort town on Friday in a move which further consolidates Mpofu’s investment footprint across the country.
Mpofu, who has business interests in various sectors of the economy, is said to be eyeing Vice-President John Nkomo’s position. Nkomo is reportedly not feeling well and could retire from active politics before the next elections.
Mpofu lost to Nkomo during the 2009 Zanu PF congress amid concerns that he had crossed from Zapu to Zanu in the early 1980s and was not eligible to represent the late vice-president Joshua Nkomo’s now defunct party in the 1987 Unity Accord arrangement.
Mpofu has interests in hospitality and tourism, mining and banking after he acquired a controlling stake in ZABG. His investment in ZABG helped the bank grow its asset base to US$40 million largely due to a financial injection from Trebo & Khays Ltd, an investment vehicle owned by Mpofu’s family.
Trebo & Khays has 99,5% shareholding in the commercial bank and has been pouring money into ZABG amid allegations of corruption involving diamonds which the minister has denied and dismissed.
Mpofu’s investment rescued the bank from closure after it had battled to meet the US$12,5 million minimum capital requirements. Although it is not clear how much he paid for the ZABG stake, at the end of last year the bank had a declared core capital of minus US$15,3 million, which implied incoming investors had to pour in over US$15 million to stabilise the bank that has now posted a US$3,8 million profit for the six months to June 30.
ZABG was created as a special purpose vehicle that facilitated the conversion of assets in the troubled banks into equity following the 2003-2004 banking crisis.
The bank had 21 branches countrywide.
Mpofu is reportedly also mulling investments in the country’s media industry amid indications he had invested in a regional newspaper which folded after briefly entering the market. Apart from his newspaper investment, he is said to be interested in broadcasting.