Time Bank of Zimbabwe, which is set to start operations after closing down in 2006, has accused former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono of unlawfully cancelling the bank’s licence without following due process or giving the bank a chance to give its side of the story. The bank also accused Gono of misleading the public saying that he closed the bank down without repaying the money that the central bank owed to Time Bank. In a public notice, the bank said:
For the record in 2000, the Reserve Bank took Time Bank’s money. This created financial problems for Time Bank. The then RBZ Governor Dr Leonard Tsumba agreed to refund the money but his term ended as Governor before he could implement such agreement.
However, when Dr G. Gono became RBZ Governor, the RBZ dishonoured the previous agreement made during the time of Dr Tsumba as Governor. In fact, the RBZ under Dr Gono closed Time Bank under unclear circumstances in 2004 and cancelled its banking licence in 2006 unlawfully, without giving Time Bank a chance as required by law to respond to the allegations made against it, before a decision was made on such allegations. In terms of the principles of natural justice or the Audi Alteram Partem (let the other side be heard as well) rule, one must be given a chance to respond to allegations against him, before a decision is made on such allegations. In other words, Time Bank was denied natural justice by RBZ. This is a basic rule of any civilised society but it was not followed by the RBZ on the Time Bank case.
Time Bank goes on to say that its licence was reinstated by the courts as far back as 2009, but the court’s ruling was not upheld as Gono appeared to be too powerful at the time. The institution said that it was frustrated by the RBZ under Gono’s tenure, adding that the matter was only resolved after Gono left office. Said Time Bank:
…Time Bank then approached the court for protection of its rights. In 2009 the court reinstated the licence of Time Bank after seeing that the RBZ had cancelled such licence unlawfully. Basically, the court upheld the law against the RBZ at a time the RBZ under Dr G Gono as Governor appeared too powerful to be brought to justice. The above ruling of the court showed the importance of having an independent Judiciary in the country.
However, despite the reinstatement of the licence by the court, Time Bank could not operate because its assets including records had not been fully handed back by the former curator of Time Bank and RBZ to the directors of Time Bank after the end of the period of curatorship. Among the assets not handed over were the computer system, reconciliation statements of our assets, audited financial statements for the period of curatorship, and other important records of the bank. In fact among such records of Time Bank lay the truth of Time Bank which had not been disclosed by RBZ to the public at the time it closed Time Bank. A delay in the handover/ takeover was basically an attempt to delay the truth to come out. The of matter could not be resolved while Dr G Gono had was Governor of RBZ.
The institution also lamented the loss of employment and business that resulted when it was closed down.
Sadly after Time Bank’s closure, more than 10 000 people lost jobs and their livelihoods directly and indirectly as a result of the closure of Time Bank. This clearly demonstrates the relationship between the protection of property rights and economic prosperity for all. In other words, the protection of constitutional rights and the economic progress of a country are strongly related. The loss of the above jobs and the consequent unemployment was a result of the violation of our constitutional rights and economic mismanagement by RBZ at that time.
In this regard, it is the unlawful local sanctions by one Zimbabwean on another Zimbabwean, and not foreign sanctions, which caused the above suffering of Time Bank, it’s employees and other stakeholders.
When Dr J P Mangudya took over as RBZ Governor, he resolved the matter very well as mentioned above, and agreed to repay the money which RBZ owed Time Bank before m Time Bank was closed in 2004 plus interest at 5%, among other things. However, Time Bank was not paid damages like loss of business during the period it was closed unlawfully.
However, the bank vowed to reestablish itself and to resume its operations as soon as possible.
Despite the above setbacks, we are determined to re-establish the bank successfully and contribute to the development of our country.
For the record, we have not yet opened for business but we have started working on the re-opening of the bank. We shall update the public on our progress in the near future.