Zanu PF bigwigs feeling sanctions pinch

Joseph Chinotimba

RULING Zanu PF legislators have claimed that they are being barred from opening nostro accounts because of their political allegiance.

A nostro account is a bank current account denominated in foreign currency which allows one to transact in all major currencies.

The legislators made the claims in the National Assembly this week where they pleaded for the intervention of Finance minister Mthuli Ncube.

The matter was raised by Buhera South parliamentarian Joseph Chinotimba, who asked the government to assist them in opening the nostro accounts.

“What plans does the government have pertaining to people on the sanctions list on how they should open nostro accounts because these accounts have to be vetted in America?  If they put money in those accounts, it is withheld yet they also want to go and purchase tractors or vehicles for use on their farms.

“So what is the government doing so that such people, including myself, can be afforded the opportunity to get cash in US dollars since we are not allowed to open nostro accounts?” asked Chinotimba.

Zanu PF Member of Parliament for Gokwe-Nembudziya Justice Mayor Wadyajena concurred with Chinotimba.

“The minister said that anyone is allowed to open a nostro account but there is the issue of people who are politically exposed. They say that the Bank of Europe does not recognise a Member of Parliament who is aligned to Zanu PF.

“They will not do any transaction with you. How does the government assist people who are politically exposed in order for them to do transactions outside the country?” Wadyajena asked.

Zanu PF chief whip Pupurai Togarepi asked the government to intervene as the issue is affecting all Zanu PF members.

“I think there is an information gap which I think the minister can investigate because what …Chinotimba raised is what is happening. In reality, you cannot open a nostro account if you are a politically exposed person. In theory, they have forms that facilitate opening of those accounts but he should help us by investigating through RBZ, whether that can be resolved,” said Togarepi.

In his response, Finance deputy minister Clemence Chiduwa promised to engage the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to look into the issue.

“Sanctions have categories but I will focus on Zidera and Executive Orders. If anyone on these sanctions sends money, a sum is deducted when the money is sent by Swift code. On nostro accounts that are opened in any other country which is not Europe, America or Britain — no amount is deducted. The challenge is there when money is sent to Europe, America and Britain. If money is sent to this region, there is no fee that is charged on transferring,” said Chiduwa.

He added that in Zimbabwe, there was currently no policy that prohibits banks to open nostro accounts for Zimbabweans, including those on the sanctions list.

“At the moment, our banks are encouraging people to open visa accounts because people are crossing the borders with a lot of cash, hence violating RBZ provisions.  We encourage people to deposit money in Visa and Master cards when they go out of the country so that there is no money laundering,” said Chiduwa.

He said banks have no power to bar politicians from opening nostro accounts.

“I think these are now special cases but our banks are not in a position to prohibit politicians from opening nostro accounts.  We do not have control of Swift transactions that are done in America or Britain.  There are forms for politically exposed people at our local banks. It could be case by case, and anyone who is affected is free to come to our offices and we can assist,” the deputy Finance minister said.

The complaints by the ruling party legislators came a few days after Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said sanctions would not stop Zimbabwe’s economic growth.

“This (sanctions) is now behind us. We no longer talk of sanctions; the land has been reunited with its people and the people with their land and that is now over. We now move on,” said Chiwenga.

“That period has given us the chance, the time to think outside the box and we now have to rebuild our livestock and leather sectors. We want all of us, not in the too distant future, to talk about producing the best leather globally. Zimbabwean leather has to be the best and that way we will rebuild our glorious past,” said the Vice President.

Harare has been under sanctions since 2000 when the late president Robert Mugabe’s administration embarked on a chaotic and violent land reform programme.

The country’s security forces have also been accused of gross human rights abuses on behalf of the ruling Zanu PF.

Even after the ascendency to power of President Emmerson Mnangagwa following a well-supported military coup in 2017, the US, the European Union and the United Kingdom have maintained their stance on Harare. – Daily News