Zim Pressing For More Disclosure By Listed Firms

Harare – Zimbabwe is pressing for more disclosure and transparency by listed companies in the country and will start requiring more detailed and lengthy financial statements as well as a more detailed audit report starting 2017, executives said this week.
Barclays, Standard Bank, Old Mutual, PPC and Tongaat Hulett are among the SA and international companies that have listed units in the country. There are also growing calls for all mining companies in Zimbabwe – among them units of Impala Platinum, Sibanye Gold, Anglo Platinum and Asa Resources – to list on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
“We are going to start being required to have longer audit reports in the financial statements and this longer version will detail audit issues that would have occupied the auditors and the company,” said Samuel Matsekete, chief finance officer at Barclays Zimbabwe.
There is growing sentiment that audit reports by Zimbabwean companies do not provide detail on the status of a company’s position. Critics say there are companies, especially in banking in Zimbabwe, that have gone on to collapse less than a month after audit reports said the companies were “sound as a going concern”.

The Zimbabwean Securities Commission is now tightening these loopholes as the country presses for more detailed disclosure frameworks and policies. Corporate governance experts in Zimbabwe said on Wednesday that current policies were lax.
“We would like to see tighter policies and regulations on disclosure and transparency as well as regarding public issues such as directors’ fees, remuneration and bonuses. For example, companies can sometimes publish only an abridged version of their financials, but stakeholders require more detailed information,” said another finance director.
Zimbabwe has suffered numerous bank collapses over the past few years, with finance institutions such as ZABG, Trust, AfrAsia Bank and others closing. Most of the bank closures have been blamed on corporate governance violations and insider loans that had not been paid back.
Central bank chiefs as well as other bank executives in Zimbabwe, however, say the banking sector is for now safe and sound, pointing to vibrant monitoring mechanisms put in place by the reserve bank.

Under new financial sector regulations bank executives in Zimbabwe now also face lengthy jail terms if it is discovered to have acted irresponsibly in the event of bank failures.

“The new policy positions on disclosure and accountability will help in giving more information to stakeholders and other interested parties,” said Matsekete.