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RBZ lifts suspension of bank lending with immediate effect. Talk about volatility

John Mangudya (RBZ Governor)

Everything is ‘with immediate effect’ with the Zimbabwean govt. Lending is unbanned as quickly as it was banned.

It was only 10 days ago that we were surprised to hear that the government was suspending lending in the country. The ban on lending was extensive, preventing all financial institutions from lending to any individual, corporate or even the government.

It was clear to all Zimbabweans that the economy could not operate without lending. We knew that businesses that rely on credit facilities would be affected and this would in turn pressure the government to lift the lending suspension.

Businesses respond

Soon after the suspension was announced, many businesses tweaked their operating procedures, announcing that they too were removing their own credit facilities. 

These businesses were only able to offer their customers credit because they had lines of credit from banks. So, a company like Surrey meats that offered restaurants/butcheries meat on credit could not continue to do so. 

Meaning in one fell swoop, the lending suspension cost banks interest revenue, cost Surrey and the customers they gave meat on credit sales revenue. It was a snowball effect. All companies in the chain were affected and it is this impact that the government underestimated.

Surrey announced they were no longer in a position to offer credit terms with immediate effect. Many other companies made the same decision. Even Tongaat Hulett announced that they would not be able to offer farmers any advance payments. 

It is with regret that the millers advise of the immediate suspension of advance payments until further notice.We normally fund the advances from loan proceeds that we access from the banks. Following the recent suspension of lending by banks we find ourselves unable to continue offering advances.   

Tongaat Hulett

When we covered the lending suspension we noted that it appeared that in the government’s desperation to catch the economic hitmen responsible for the ZW$ collapse they were going to leave too many casualties.

Even the farmers that are more or less carrying the Zimbabwean economy were immediately affected by their economic measures.

Luckily for us, the government swallowed its pride and lifted the lending suspension after only 10 days. 

Lifting of lending suspension

PRESS STATEMENT  

UPLIFTMENT OF TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF LENDING BY BANKS 

Further to the circular the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (the Bank) issued to banks on 9 May 2022, the Bank wishes to advise the public that the temporary suspension of lending services by banks has been lifted with immediate effect. The lifting of the suspension does not apply to those entities that are under investigation by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) for abusing loan facilities to the detriment of the economy. The FIU has accordingly advised all banks of the affected entities. 

RBZ

It has been an embarrassing 10 days for the RBZ and the government. It started with them having to make some exceptions to the blanket ban only days after announcing the ban.

“Those trading in key commodities such as tobacco, maize, sugar cane, soya bean and other related products are exempt from the suspension of lending facilities by banks,” came the clarifications as they tried to backtrack from their ill-advised ban.

Now, the ban is lifted for everyone except those under investigation but this is not a win for the government even if they catch the speculative borrowers they were after. It may have only been 10 days but our biggest problem in Zimbabwe remains that of trust.

The quick backtrack is not a win

The RBZ and the government recently revealed that they understand that the most important job they have is to build back trust. Uncertainty is probably the biggest hindrance to Zimbabwe attracting both foreign and domestic investment. 

We have woken up to drastic economic measures in this country one too many times. The govt loves surprising us with statutory instruments and RBZ directives and this makes it risky to operate in Zimbabwe.

The govt saw fit to outlaw a sector’s core business activity with no warning and I wonder how that is supposed to instill confidence in the economy. 

The crazy part is that backtracking on that decision makes it worse – it appears to outsiders that they made that decision on a whim and did not think it through.

If you were surprised when Standard Chartered announced that they will be exiting Zimbabwe, the events of the last 10 days should open your eyes. I imagine that all the other banks will be holding back on any investments as they realise that not even they are safe from disruption by the government.

Zimbabwe is a joke sometimes. Anyway, if you’re fortunate enough, go forth and get that loan you need.

You should also read:

RBZ finally identifies actual cause of Zimdollar collapse but maintains old measures

RBZ on suspension of bank lending. Partly drawn loans are suspended too. What is the rationale behind these decisions?

With lending suspended, banks will be okay but microfinance institutions likely to struggle


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17 thoughts on “RBZ lifts suspension of bank lending with immediate effect. Talk about volatility

    1. Its shear madness, the way policies are being changed. Within 10days there is a ban, an exemption then lifting up of the suspension this is bad for any serious business person or an investor. Look now were these policy inconsistencies has lead us, basic goods have gone up, the official exchange rate its now 1:258 from 1:173 as for the black market reaction nobody knows. We are in trouble for real

      1. That’s the frustrating bit. We don’t deny that there are speculative borrowers but we know that the uncertainty emanating from policy inconsistencies is more to blame for the economy’s struggles.

      2. My man, the way these learned gentlemen are handling our economy, i will handle it better with the experience i have from my family of 4mothers and 10 children.

  1. The clueless folks by trying to figure out things as they go along. There is zero evidence of intellectually figuring out if actions are even worth attempting. Going from the frying pan into the fire. What a bunch of know it all

    1. To think how many of these decision makers hold PhD’s. This should cure Zimbabweans of their need to see paper qualifications above all else.

  2. RBZ is using VAR ⚽. They had to stop the WHOLE game for FIU to make assessments, then they came back and said “Play on!” 🤣

  3. And the worst part is that probably none of these Economic Hitmen will ever be revealed or face their day in the court of law. So either the Hitmen are a figment of the imagination or this way to get a cut from said Hitmen, there’s really no other plausible explanation.
    Government basically burnt down the house saying that they were doing it to kill a snake and then they just changed their mind and put out the fire. Now we got no dead snake and half the house has been burnt and we somehow are supposed to be confident that the people in charge at the RBZ/Finance ministry know what they are doing and have a plan on how to fix the problems being faced by the countries economy ?

    1. 😂🤣 Half the house is burnt and there is no snake to be seen. That’s exactly what happened. Yet even if they parade the dead snake we would still not applaud them for their overreaction. How did we end up with decision makers that think burning down a kitchen to kill cockroaches is an appropriate solution.

      Maybe we all just underestimate how powerful the hitmen are. In addition to tanking the ZW$ they are also responsible for droughts, parastatal failures, high infant mortality rates and so on.

    1. But that’s the problem in a nutshell for these guy’s experience has taught them nothing. They’re making the exact same mistakes as before with slight twists eg printing too much money this time electronically as well , artificial exchange rates through a twisted version of the Dutch system that retains almost nothing of the original system these clowns were auctioning money that they didn’t actually have!, and ah yes let’s not forget these lightning bolt type of proclamations they issue from time to time that are always, ALWAYS! amended within days of being issued or in this case outright cancelled.
      Experience is only a good teacher if you’re willing to learn from it.

  4. Last week Zimbabwe was in the international news. I read articles in Al jezera, Forbes, and the Wall Street Journal!
    About how the govt had gone H.A.M in it’s fight against inflation and a falling exchange rate by tearing to shreds one of the core tenets of the banking system by banning banks from issuing loans.
    They talked about how ofcourse it was a stupid idea, but maybe it was so stupid it actually might work for a while, sort of like negative interest rates.
    The people writing these articles were using the logic that this decision was taken after much thought and discussion with a hint of desperation about how to solve the problems besetting the economy of Zimbabwe.
    Hah the joke is on them!
    The economy of Zimbabwe is run on the equivalent of scenario where you drunk text an ex girlfriend/boyfriend!
    And the usual rules of that scenario apply here as well.
    First (amend/cancel) delete everything, followed by a weak (non)apology and then pretend it never happened.

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