Zim Bank Bounces Back, Property Tycoons Demanding Cash Only

The small bank opened its doors to the public on Monday, this week, after being allowed to begin operations by the Registrar of Banking Institutions, Noah Mataruka.

Royal Bank was formerly led by tycoon, Jeffrey Mzwimbi, a close ally of Econet Wireless of Zimbabwe Limited (Econet) boss, Strive Masiyiwa, now based in South Africa.

The bank was deregistered from commercial banking activities after being found on the wrong side of the law by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Dr Gideon Gono, in 2004.

In a statement to the public the RBZ said : “Take note that Royal Bank of Zimbabwe Limited has been authorised in terms of Section 16 of the Banking Act (Chapter 24:20) to commence the business of a commercial bank on February 17, 2011. This follows the re-registration of Royal Bank Zimbabwe Limited.”

Royal Bank thus becomes the second bank to reopen its doors to the public after Trust Bank Limited (Trust) did so last year.

Three banks, namely Trust Bank, Royal Bank and Time Bank were merged by Gono to form the ZABG which has apparently collapsed after being taken to court by Trust.

Trust Bank began operations in December, last year under a new management team but without its founder and Chief Executive, tycoon, William Nyemba, who is now based in South Africa.

It could not be established who is now the boss at Royal Bank.

Meanwhile Zimbabwe’s property tycoons are now demanding cash only and not staggered payments for their mansions, a survey has revealed.

The survey shows that virtually all property owners are now demanding cash only and not the monthly or quarterly payments that they initially agreed to during the last half of 2010.

Some tycoons had hiked their prices thinking that 2010 World Cup fans would snap up their mansions after attending matches in South Africa.

A Property World (Private) Limited spokesman said his firm still had many properties for sale but the owners were demanding “cash only for them”.

“As you know there is a serious liquidity crunch currently facing Zimbabwe,” he said in an interview.

“Sellers do not want instalments but cash for their houses. We are selling shops under Sectional Title for about US$50 000 each right now. These are selling very well.”

A spokesman for Clouds Properties (Private) Limited said the market was quite tight right now but his firm still had some properties for sale.

“As you known this is currently a buyer’s market and you need cash,” he said.

“Many customers, however, do not have Title Deeds for their properties and this becomes a problem when a sale is conducted. There are currently no bonds available so things are rather tough for customers. However, houses in the US$25 000 range are selling fast.”

To illustrate the diversity of the property market and prices, our survey revealed that in Bulawayo’s Old Pumula high density suburb, a house was going for US$22 000.

The fenced and gated property has three bedrooms, combined dining room and lounge and is on 545 square metres.
The house has Title Deeds available.

In Harare’s Braeside medium density suburb another house was going for US$75 000 while in the plush and leafy suburb of Highlands, a four bed roomed house along Glenara Avenue, was going for US$220 000.

This property comes with four bedrooms, the main being ensuite, sunken sun lounge, swimming pool, and a one bed roomed cottage outside.

In Mt Pleasant low density suburb another property was going for US$190 000 with four bedrooms, main ensuite, lounge, swimming pool, and a two bed roomed cottage outside.

“It is a buyer’s market right now and all you need is cash to secure a home,” a consultant from RM Africa Property Consultants (Private) Limited said in an interview.