Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Missing $15 Billion Looters Face Probe in Zimbabwe
April 28, 2016
Bulawayo Bureau
Zimbabwe Herald

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said Government had launched a forensic audit of seven firms that operated in the Chiadzwa diamond fields amid suspicion that the country could have lost $15 billion through leakages.

President Mugabe in February said Government had not received meaningful returns from Chiadzwa diamond fields and that private companies mining could have robbed the State.

The President said less than $2 billion was remitted from diamond proceeds and those seconded by Government to work with private miners had failed to account for the gems.

“We’ve not received much from the diamond industry at all. I don’t think we’ve exceeded $2 billion, yet we think more than $15 billion has been earned,” President Mugabe said in an interview on the occasion of his birthday.

Speaking during a Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Business Conference plenary in response to a question, VP Mnangagwa said: “You said there was $15 billion stolen. What it then says is that there’s an investigation, where there’s investigation there’s an allegation, and where there’s an allegation there’s a prima facie case, there’s a possibility that the thing happened.

“You properly said there is $15 billion which is being investigated, which means the issue of $15 billion is under investigation, using your own terms, to establish whether it actually happened and if it did, that is corruption.”

He added: “And up to now, that hasn’t been concluded. There were something like seven companies and each company will be subjected to a forensic audit to establish during the past five or six years, what it did. A forensic audit on each company will be done.

“A forensic audit has been instituted against all the seven companies. They will be audited to discover whether this happened or not, and those who will be found through the forensic audit will account for the resource they have stolen from this country, that becomes a fact. That is the essence about the $15 billion question.” VP Mnangagwa told the same forum that all Zimbabweans should join in the fight against corruption and not just talk about it.

He was responding to Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) board member, Mr Nelson Matongorere, who said the VP had not spoken about corruption in his keynote address.

“I understand the question on corruption has come from Zimra and I think my brother, if the people seated here are honest with you, during tea time, they will discuss with you the corruption perception about Zimra,” chuckled VP Mnangagwa.

He said Matongorere’s comment created a perception that Government could be involved in corruption.

“I don’t dispute it, but you’re excluding the private sector. My view is that corruption wherever it raises its ugly head must be fought and not talked about. We must cease talking about corruption but fight corruption.

“We want to hear ministers here with me, including myself, permanent secretaries, directors in the Government, whenever they have an opportunity, they should talk about the fight against corruption.

“I would like also to say captains of industry, whenever they have an opportunity, to talk to their companies and the people, they should fight corruption, not only speak against it but fight it.”

VP Mnangagwa said if all Zimbabweans took a stand against corruption, the scourge would be wiped out.

“Yes, we had an anti-corruption commission which we have dissolved because we now needed another team or commission to investigate the commissioners that are leaving. We instituted another one two months ago and I believe their focus is fighting it (corruption) and we shall continue to monitor whether they continue fighting it,” he said.

“Let it not be a duty of Government alone, but let it be a duty for all of us who love our country to expose corruption wherever we see it, wherever we hear about it, let’s fight it.”

“So my brother from Zimra, perhaps you’re not very sociable otherwise you’ll be hearing what the people have to say about Zimra. I have no evidence, but I hear about those things so it’s good that you raised this issue.”

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Let’s do more to attract investors

April 28, 2016
Opinion & Analysis

Zimbabwe has recorded a number of achievements in the process of reforming the doing business environment, but still requires more support to achieve notable success.

With more support from Zimbabweans local and abroad, co-operating partners, international financial institutions and development partners, more gains could be realised.

There have been notable achievements under various initiatives. The first 100 days that were launched in September 2015 with the support of the World Bank Group have laid the foundation for attracting sustainable and mutually beneficial foreign direct investment.

The achievements under the first 100 days include drafting of principles of more than eight pieces of legislation, by-laws and regulations while various processes within Government ministries, departments and agencies were streamlined.

Furthermore, proposed amendments made to the Companies Act, Shop Licence Act, Town and Country Planning Act, are some of the notable achievements while new Bills have been drafted on Insolvency (which seeks to promote a culture of corporate rescue to preserve jobs in companies that are viable, though experiencing challenges); Movable Property and Securities Interest (which seek to permit responsible lenders to lend against movable assets as collateral thereby improving access to finance for SMEs in particular); and the Commercial Court (which will permit expeditious settlement of commercial disputes through accelerated processes).

Another highlight was the consolidation of the process to pay taxes at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) by Zimdef and NSSA through the adoption of a single Window Tax Payment System to reduce time taken in making payment at various agencies.

As a result, a number of targets were achieved in various thematic areas, for example the number of days it takes to process the requirements of starting a business was significantly reduced from 90 days to 30 days.

Regarding Construction Permits, the days were reduced from 448 days to 120 days and Property registration now takes 14 days instead of the previous 36 days. Time taken to pay taxes was also reduced from 242 hours to 160 hours.

The amount of work that has been put into improving the doing business environment is encouraging. But to carry forward the work, Zimbabwe needs all the support she can get from all and sundry. Development partners, IFIs, investors and political players should come to the party.

We are pleased to note that the World Bank is working with Government on the doing business initiatives.

Again, we are encouraged that the International Monetary Fund board will consider the fund’s mission report next week. We know that the mission said Zimbabwe had met its quantitative and qualitative targets under the Staff Monitored Programme and Article IV consultations. We expect the IMF board to adopt the report.

If the IMF board adopts the fund’s mission report at its May 2 sitting, as Government expects, it will give impetus for the country’s debt resolution strategy.

This will set Zimbabwe on the path to formally rejoin the international funders. We are at a critical stage where we need to harness and garner all the support we so need.

No individual or nation can survive in isolation. We need the world and the world needs us. But we also have to do our part for the world to move with us.

Policy coherence and clarity is key at this stage. The fact that the IMF board is discussing a report about us attracts more eyes on us. This therefore requires that we conduct our business with integrity and honour.

But while we endeavour to attract international support, we have not stopped improving our environment.

In that regard, Government is aiming to reduce the period it takes to register a company to 15 days from the current 30 days.

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