Wednesday, October 20, 2010

From John Robertson

The detailed Consumer Price Index table shows that during September the price changes recorded were mostly fractions of one percent and the prices dropped down slightly during the month for about two dozen of the consumer goods identified.

A similar number of goods are also shown to have decreased against their levels a year ago, but some of these decreases are quite significant, led by carpets and floor coverings, which fell by 38,7%. New and used car prices went down by 29,7% and small electrical household appliances became 22% cheaper. However, hotel accommodation increased by 45,9%, motor cycle prices increased by almost 30% and vehicle maintenance charges rose by 21,3%.

Figures for school fees remain absent from the table, but the reason for this has not been explained.. Very few new statistics are being released by the Central Statistical Office at present, but I am hoping to receive indications of manufacturing output changes within the next few weeks. Some mining production volume and value figures will also be ready soon.

Kindest regards,


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Banker Association President Defends Bank Charges

12 October 2010
Harare — THE Bankers Association of Zimbabwe has defended local bank charges saying they are comparable to the region, although they differ slightly due to high cost of utilities.

In an interview with Herald Business BAZ President Mr John Mushayavanhu said according to a recent study, also sent to the Ministry of Finance, rates levied by the local banks were not out of line with regional trends.
"We have done a study and I can confirm that our rates are very much comparable to the region. There are slight differences because our infrastructure and utilities such as power as we sometimes use generators," he said.

The BAZ president said local bank charges were not exceptional considering other countries such as South Africa even charge their clients for depositing money, which does not happen in the local banking sector.

There has been concern from the banking public, the Ministry of Finance and Reserve Bank that banks were ripping off clients with high charges yet they did not give any interest on account facilities such as current accounts.

In many instances depositors are baffled when they discover that after making bank deposits their balances would be significantly reduced by service and monthly charges, which have discouraged the use of the banking system.

Economists said current account balances are reduced each time the holder withdraws money or asks for a statement with banks charging up to US$3 per transaction. Current accounts may attract 3 percent interest in a year.

Mr Mushayavanhu said bank clients had options to operate either holding or investment accounts. Current accounts, despite the apparently high service charges, do not attract interest on deposits, as they are believed to be meant to facilitate the transfer of money from one point to the other and usually do not hold funds for a long time.

On the other hand, savings accounts, which hold deposits over a fixed period of time, hold funds for a given time allowing banks to also draw on the money for investment elsewhere meaning banks earn a return on them.

Savings accounts, which essentially are demand accounts where the holder may call on the money after a month, are able to attract interest of between six and eight percent.

Clients can also make returns from investment facilities such as fixed term deposits. On average a 60-day deposit, depending on amount, attracts between 11 percent and 15 percent.

Ninety-day deposits presently attract between 12 percent and 16 percent, but the actual rate may be determined by amount invested.

As part of efforts to encourage use of the banking system, said BAZ, banks were now advertising business conditions. He noted confidence was slowly returning to the sector after a decade of instability eroded public trust.

Mr Mushayavanhu said the imminent resumption of lender of last resort function by the Reserve Bank and the existence of the Depositor Protection Board should help improve public confidence in the operations of local banks.

"We have the Depositor Protection Board, which is more like an insurer of banks, which would compensate depositors in the event that a bank goes under," said Mr Mushayavanhu.

Confidence in the local banking sector was shaken after a decade of economic instability when thousands of people lost their money after the country dumped the local currency and adopted the multi-currency system.

China and Zimbabwe

The rise of China in Zimbabwe:

"Closer economic and diplomatic ties between China and Zimbabwe have had wide and far-reaching effects. Not only has Beijing been vetoing plans by the West and European capitals to take sterner action against Harare at the United Nations Security Council for her alleged human rights violations, but its capital has also come in handy for Zimbabwe.

State-owned Chinese firms, supported by their powerful State apparatus and employing low-cost but efficient labour are not only outbidding contractors from other parts of the world for African projects, but are now controlling a formidable slice of telecommunications, textiles, construction and mining deals in Zimbabwe..."

Virgin Unite, Humanity United and the Nduna Foundation announce plans to help restore Zimbabwe to a thriving nation.

 Zimbabwe's economy was once as rich as its culture. But today, unemployment in one of southern Africa's landlocked nations, has skyrocketed to an alarming 95 percent. If ever there was a time to help this nation, it is now. Fortunately, social philanthropists and influential leaders such as Richard Branson and Nelson Mandela have stepped up to the plate.

Enterprise Zimbabwe CEO Isabella Matambanadzo tells Tonic, "We don't have the financial resources to match the ideas we have for business." So what's a country to do when its people have great ideas and a healthy dose of entrepreneurship but no money to match their intentions? They ask for help.

Together, Virgin Unite, Humanity United and the Nduna Foundation established Enterprise Zimbabwe, an independent nonprofit aimed at fostering a transformation of the nation's economy by finding investment partners to ignite and fuel the existing entrepreneurship of the Zimbabwean people.

The program was born under the direction of The Elders, a group of leaders founded by Nelson Mandela and Craca Machel, and chaired by Desmond Tutu. The independent assembly identified the need for investment partners and quickly put this initiative to revitalize the Zimbabwe economy into motion. Of course, none of this would be possible without the financial support and efforts of Virgin Unite and Richard Branson.

"Zimbabwe was once a shining example of a thriving economy in Africa and known worldwide for having an incredible spirit of entrepreneurship," said Branson. "Now is not the time for donors to take a wait and see approach. It's critical for the global community of business leaders and philanthropists to come together to support Zimbabweans."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The scramble for Zimbabwe has already begun

The Scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa, was a process of invasion, attack, occupation and annexation of sovereign African territory by European powers during the New Imperialism period, between the 1880s and World War I in 1914. (Source Wikipedia).

I wager that we have begun to see the scramble for Zimbabwe but this time it will not be characterised by any attacks, occupations and annexation but rather by billions of US dollar touting investors from all over the world as they seek to get their stake of Zimbabwe's vast mineral resources. Already on Tuesday it was reported that Zimbabwe's government received five bids for its 70% stake in Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Co.

Zimbabwe has the second largest deposit of platinum reserves in the world. Zimbabwe has a good percentage of the world's known reserves of metallurgical-grade chromites. Other commercial mineral deposits include coal, asbestos, copper, nickel, gold, and iron ore and lately diamonds. In order to develop these mineral deposits, the country needs billions of dollars. Zimbabwe has well skilled population, excellent climate and numerous opportunities in all sectors going forward.

The deterioration of infrastructure and social services over the last ten years provides significant opportunities for investors; there is no doubt about that. China is quietly already there so are the Russians. Opportunities also exist in agriculture and related industries where farms and companies are lying idle in need of new capital. The one thing about Zimbabwe is that, because of ZANU (PF)'s mismanagement of the economy since 2000, basically all industries have been underdeveloped and must be recapitalised presenting huge opportunities in all sectors. According to the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ), in which the Chinese now have a stake, US$20bn is required to revive the country's infrastructure. In addition to that, we have heard that Woolworths is returning, Pick n Pay has upped its stake in TM, MacDonald's will be back, DRDGold is there, the French are looking at huge energy investments, Ecobank has bought a stake in a local bank, a number of Zimbabwean companies are looking for secondary listing on the JSE to raise new expansion capital while those banks whose licences were unfairly revoked in 2008 are back in action. Lately, Richard Branson has joined the chorus and we are likely to see Americans coming aboard. Zimbabwe has also lagged behind in the ICT and Services sectors and those investors with smart ideas and capital should make a bundle.

The fundamental requirement is that Mugabe and his cronies exit and the question is, will this happen soon enough? Personally I think Mugabe is tired and it must dawn on any intelligent man as he is that, all things come to an end. However we have a serious problem with the army and those in ZANU (PF) that who would rather have the current scenario prevailing.

As the scramble begins we all do hope and pray that free and fair elections will be held this coming year and the best thing that could happen to the country is that ZANU(PF) exits and we see the emergence of a democratic dispensation and hopefully, a new leadership driven by a new value system. Something at the back of my mind, however, tells me that ZANU (PF) will not go quietly. Investors need therefore to take a calculated risk and must not underestimate Mugabe who has a penchant for doing the unexpected. Yes it's time for him to go but I can see him beating his chest and claiming that without him and his insistence that sanctions must go, the investors would not be back. I can bet my bottom dollar that the MDC will not get any credit for this.

My own personal opinion is that it is such a pity that capital is insensitive to human rights. There is much national healing that needs to go on before we can claim that things are normal. This, however, will surely be swept under the carpet as the power of capitalism rears its ugly head once more. However, if you want to be part of the action, the time to go and invest in Zimbabwe is now.

*Vince Musewe is an independent Zimbabwean economist based in South Africa and chairman and founder of Truth2Power an organisation that seeks to encourage fearless debate and dialogue on creating a new Africa. You may contact him on

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Gono gives RBZ clean bill of health

Saturday, 02 October 2010 18:27

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) say it is on course to be operationally ready to resume its lender-of-last-resort role.

The move is likely to restore confidence in the troubled financial services sector.

RBZ stopped playing the lender-of-last-resort role in 2008 creating fears that the local financial institutions were now susceptible to shocks in the event of problems in the sector.

RBZ governor, Gideon Gono told Standardbusiness on the sidelines of the Sadc Central Banks meeting on Friday that once the central bank is ready, Treasury will disburse the money.

He said they were not performing that role, not because the Ministry of Finance had not disbursed the money but for other technical reasons.

“The Minister of Finance has written to the governor and is on record as saying as soon as they are operationally ready he would disburse the money to kick-start that process.

“Unfortunately we have not been operationally ready but we are there now. We should be able to begin the process,” Gono said.

RBZ is in the process of rationalising its staff in line with the new focus of sticking to the bank’s core business.

Gono said rationalisation is one of the items on the agenda but would not commit himself on the numbers involved because “it will be pre-emptive of me to report on where we are to the public before we have concluded matters and reported to our principals”.

Meanwhile, the 31st meeting of the Committee on Central Bank Governors from the Sadc region ended in Harare on Friday with 15 central bank governors and 30 senior officials in the region in attendance.

Gono said the mere fact that the meeting was held in Zimbabwe got certain directional signals to others about their perception of the venue and the country.

“You cannot wish away Zimbabwe’s central bank, you cannot prescribe it out of existence, you cannot hope to achieve economic turnaround let alone stability and growth outside the involvement of your central bank,” Gono said.

“These men and women showing their weight to come over here is a great tribute to the country, an indication that our country is stable, turning around and they now want to see and understand Zimbabwe more.”

BY NDAMU SANDU - The Standard