PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s eldest son Robert Jr approached BancABC Zimbabwe in August seeking information on a maize importation facility at a time the country is facing one of its worst droughts induced by the El Niño phenomenon, it has been established.
By Bernard Mpofu
Although details of the facility could not be ascertained, this comes after the Zimbabwe Independent on September 30 erroneously reported that Mugabe’s last born son Chatunga had a US$380 000 loan application rejected by the same bank.
The report was published despite several attempts by this newspaper to seek comment from BancABC MD Joe Sibanda ahead of printing deadline. The bank was given a chance to clarify that it was Robert Jr not Chatunga who had visited the bank but decided to be uncooperative.
In the same report, the paper had reported that Chatunga met BancABC staffer Lincoln Chirinda seeking a loan but it has since been established that Chirinda met Robert Jr.
According to papers sent by Chatunga’s lawyers to the Independent last Friday, Robert Jr visited the bank to enquire on a grain importation facility. Robert Jr, according to sources, has no bank account with BancABC.
Chirinda also confirmed meeting Robert Jr in a report he wrote to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe after the story was published.
“On Friday 5th of August, I received a call from the main reception where I was advised that Stephen Rwodzi wanted to see me around 12.46 hrs. At that time I was attending to another client and only managed to go to the reception and see him around 1300hrs. I enquired from Mr Rwodzi the purpose of the visit as I had no prior appointment with him; he advised to me that he needed a letter of confirmation on behalf of Bonero Corporation to give a potential grain supplier. (Mr Rwodzi and Bonero Corporation had a business relationship for the importation of grain on behalf of the Grain Marketing Board),” said Chirinda in the papers sent by the lawyers.
Rwodzi, according to the documents, then advised Chirinda to explain the mechanics of the grain importation process to Robert Jnr who was set to visit the bank later in the afternoon.
“Mr Rwodzi introduced me to the two gentlemen in his company who were Mr Robert Mugabe Jr and Mr Billet Magara (I handed them my business cards); he went to highlight the purpose of the meeting which was to explain the mechanics of the grain importation. I went to highlight the purpose of the meeting which was to explain the mechanics of the grain importation. I went on to explain the process and payment modalities involved upon enquiry. There was further enquiry on the use of trade finance instruments such as Letters of credit and Guarantees which I advised the members that it was feasible but highlighted that there was a challenge of very few international banks willing to confirm on our behalf without cash cover,” Chirinda added.
The Independent has established that, as of June, BancABC’s total politically exposed persons debt portfolio stood at US$2,28 million. The list of bad debtors includes politicians, bankers, military commanders and judges, although the majority of BancABC’s politically exposed persons are sugarcane farmers in Chiredzi in the Lowveld under an out-grower facility.