Mnangagwa gets tough on movement of funds overseas

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has issued a three-month deadline and moratorium to individuals and corporates in Zimbabwe, who have over the years illegally transferred funds and assets from Zimbabwe, to repatriate them or face prosecution for failing to comply.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has over the years complained about the malpractice, which has cost the country millions annually. The government of former President Robert Mugabe had failed to root out the practice, which is also blamed for fuelling cash shortages which have rocked the domestic economy in the past few years.

In his first major act since his inauguration last Friday, President Mnangagwa said on Tuesday those who externalised funds and assets had a three-month grace period beginning December 1 this year to repatriate them without facing any penalty.

“As a first step towards recovery of the illegally externalised funds and assets, the Government of Zimbabwe is gazetting a three-month moratorium within which those involved in the malpractice can bring back the funds and assets, with no question being asked or charges being preferred against them (sic).

“Upon expiry of the three-month window, government will proceed to effect arrest of all those who would not have complied with this directive, and will ensure that they are prosecuted in terms of the country’s laws." 

Those willing to comply were directed to approach the central bank for “necessary facilitation and accounting".

President Mnangagwa said the directive followed activities linked to a military initiative, code named “Operation Restore Legacy”, which discovered that huge sums of money and other assets had been externalised.

“Such malpractices constitute a very serious economic crime against the people of Zimbabwe, which the Government of Zimbabwe will never condone,” he said.

“Operation Restore Legacy” was an intervention by the army in government affairs, which it said was targeted at dealing with a situation which was threatening to degenerate into violent conflict and was targeted only at “criminals” who had surrounded former President Mugabe.

Also on Tuesday, President Mnangagwa said he was establishing a “lean government” that will deliver efficient service to bring relief to a people who have suffered economic hardships for two decades.

Having inherited a bloated government, Mnangagwa told permanent secretaries, the most senior civil servants of government ministries, in his first meeting with them that his government would not tolerate “bureaucratic slothfulness”.

“I am currently in the process of putting together a new government structure which should essentially be leaner. This, of course, will entail the merging of some line ministries in order to remove functional duplications as well as to contain unnecessary expenditures, so as to enhance productivity and efficient delivery of service.”

Mnangagwa reiterated that rebuilding the economy and improving the livelihoods of the people was the most urgent task for his administration.

“Our people have endured economic hardships for over two decades, and now expect this new government to turn things around, within the shortest time possible,” he said.

Due to the high public expectations for change, Mnangagwa said a “laissez faire” approach to business in government would not be tolerated. 

“Our prime focus should thus be on the implementation of practical solutions to grow our economy, create jobs and boost the incomes of our people,” he said. “Our mantra should be peak performance, peak performance and peak performance.”

He told the officials none them would be laid off except those who have reached retirement age. - NNN-NEW ZIANA

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