Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: REUTERS
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: REUTERS

Harare — President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration on Monday named 1,687 companies and 157 individuals accused of failing to heed his call to return funds taken out of Zimbabwe.

This follows the expiry of a three-month amnesty announced in December last year to return the funds.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe estimates that the country could have been prejudiced of nearly $1.4bn by the companies and individuals. The central bank said that companies and individuals had returned $591m in funds illegally stashed abroad after a 90-day amnesty to bring back the money expired last week, but $827m was still unaccounted for.

The externalised funds in part are responsible for the cash squeeze that currently persists in the country.

Battling an acute shortage of cash in the country, which is almost in its third consecutive year, companies have had to turn to the parallel market to access the scarce US dollar for payments of raw materials and to also settle their dues to debtors outside the country.

The backlog of unprocessed foreign payments estimated to now be about a year, resulted in the central bank forced in 2016 to prioritise payment in the scarce US dollar of goods and services.

In the past, some companies have also admitted that they were increasingly finding it difficult to repatriate the funds due to their shareholders as dividends.

The companies named on Monday are involved in mining, agriculture, manufacturing and cross-border freight business in a list made available to the public that shows that the externalised funds that amounted to about $362m.

The individuals named, mostly of Chinese origin, externalised about $464m.

Mnangagwa said that despite concerted efforts by authorities and banks to request these entities to account for the externalised funds, the entities or individuals failed, ignored or neglected to respond to the amnesty.

"It is against this background that the authorities have no other recourse to cause these entities and individuals to respond, other than to publicise the names of the entities and individuals so that the concerned parties take heed of the importance of good corporate governance and the legal obligations of citizenry and where necessary to ensure that those responsible for such illicit financial inflows are brought to justice," he said.

At the top of the list are five mining companies namely: African Associated Mines; Marange Resources; Canadile Miners; Mbada Diamonds; and Jinan Mining.

Last year, the state became the sole shareholder of mining in the diamond fields of Marange, following a decision by the former ruler, Robert Mugabe that diamond resources must be nationalised.

Under Mugabe’s presidency, complaints from officials in the treasury often surfaced that revenues from diamond mining were not reaching the state coffers.