Zimbabwe’s first locally-owned commercial bank, Time Bank, is set to reopen soon 17 years after its licence was revoked by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
In a notice, Time Bank said it was ready to reopen.
“Standing the Test of Time, in order to deliver economic empowerment to both yourselves and ourselves through innovative banking services. An exciting time is coming. Watch the space for the latest on Time Bank”.
The bank, founded by Chris Tande, began operations in 1997 becoming the first locally owned commercial bank. Other locals owned merchant banks and discount houses.
But the bank was closed in 2004 by the central bank. Time Bank disputed the reasons for its closure and cancellation of its licence and was the first bank to take RBZ to the courts.
The protracted legal battle unearthed that the bank was owed US$5m by RBZ which created financial problems for the bank. Then governor Leonard Tsumba agreed to refund the money but his term of office ended before the funds could be refunded.
His predecessor Gideon Gono was accused to have reneged in repaying the bank which forced Time Bank to approach the courts. RBZ responded by putting the bank under a curator in 2004 and cancelled the licence two years later.
The licence was restored by the courts in 2009 but the bank could not operate as RBZ could not do a hand over of the assets, documents and affairs of Time Bank in the normal way at the end of curatorship, from the former curator to the bank’s directors. Another legal battle ensued.
However, while the dispute was raging on, Time Bank paid out all its known depositors and employees their full amounts in 2006.
“Time Bank is probably the only bank in the banking history of Zimbabwe which managed to pay all such depositors and employees their full amounts without borrowing from RBZ or getting new money from its shareholders or from Deposit Protection Corporation or raising new deposits in order to pay old depositors,” an executive said.
RBZ governor John Mangudya resolved the dispute in 2015 when RBZ and Time Bank negotiated and entered into a settlement agreement under which RBZ agreed to refund the US$ 5m which had been taken from the institution before it was closed.
“It is important to note that the decision of Dr J P Mangudya on the mentioned refund is the same decision which the former Governor Dr L Tsumba had reached, but in between, them was Dr G Gono who made a different decision on the matter,” an executive said.