President Emmerson Mnangagwa Picture: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters
HARARE  - There is fear and loathing in corporate corridors and even at home for many executives, politicians and business people with operations in Zimbabwe as the extended deadline for individuals and companies to return externalised funds and assets lapses.

And as some rush to comply with Emmerson Mnangagwa's call for the return of externalised funds and assets, some have started to absolve themselves of involvement in funds and asset externalisation.

Mnangagwa promised to name and shame those who fail to heed his March 16 deadline on Monday. “We are happy with the response, 100percent response is always difficult. Out of the $1.3billion (R15.3bn) that went out, $250 million is coming back," Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya said in parliament this week. "About $187m is money that went out, but came in as imports, and $50m was used to purchase fixed properties outside the country.”

This means that as of the beginning of this week, about $487m is accounted for from the $1.3bn that the government is targeting.

“People have been seeking answers and explanations on what constitutes externalisation. It has been a hectic period and people do not want to be named and shamed,” said an official, who declined to be named.

Those who bought properties outside the country using proceeds externalised from Zimbabwe had to declare the assets to the government, Mangudya added.

The extended deadline lapses today and the tensions over this inside Zimbabwe have prompted other businesspeople, such as Mzi Khumalo, to come out declaring their innocence on the issue.

Mnangagwa had initially given a three-month moratorium for the return of the funds and assets and extended this by two weeks.

Speculation

There is also speculation that ousted allies of former president Robert Mugabe are among those who externalised funds from the country, with government officials blaming this for cash and foreign currency shortages in the country.

“Neither Mzi Khumalo, as executive chairperson of Metallon Corporation and its ultimate beneficial owner, nor Metallon Corporation itself have ever been accused of externalising funds in Zimbabwe,” Khumalo said yesterday.

However, in 2015, allegations of externalisation were raised against a subsidiary of Metallon, which is now defunct.

Moreover, in 2017, state media reported that Metallon, the biggest gold miner in Zimbabwe, was facing allegations of “externalising $30m through dividends paid to shareholders without profits to back them".

Khumalo denied these charges yesterday and claimed that they were politically motivated by some members of the previous Zimbabwe administration.

Some Zimbabwean companies such as Zimplats and Innscor have previously been named in the Panama Papers for having used offshore accounts.

The companies and some business executives in Zimbabwe who were named in the Panama Papers have denied any wrongdoing.

-BUSINESS REPORT