Zim moves to establish commercial court

HARARE - Zimbabwe has started mobilising resources for the establishment of a commercial court to deal with rising corporate and white-collar crimes in the country, it has emerged.

The deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet Ray Ndhlukula on Thursday told delegates at an Ease of Doing Business workshop in the capital that the Office of the President and Cabinet and the Chief Justice department recently met about the issue.

“The process is on-going; arrangements are underway for the commercial court which will operate from the High Court. As it is, yes, I met with the Chief Justice (Godfrey) Chidyausiku and it is a given that there is going to be a commercial court possibly before end  of 2016,” he said.

This comes as there has been a broad consensus among Zimbabwe’s business community that there is need for such a court, specifically handling commercial cases in an efficient and business-like manner.

There is a perception that commercial litigation in the country is frustratingly slow while the costs are far too burdensome.

Ndlukula said the issue was a priority and mobilisation of funds was “looking good”

“The issue is, I also cannot say much except that high significance is attached to the existence of such an arm of the judiciary,” he said, declining to reveal more details.

Proposed amendments to the Banking Act recognise the establishment of the office of Financial Public Protector (FPP).

The function of the FPP shall be to resolve disputes between banking institutions and other financial institutions on the one hand, and their customers on the other. The office shall consist of a board, a panel of financial protectors and the chief FPP.

The office of the FPP shall attempt to resolve disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation or determination, as may be appropriate in each particular case, but in all cases the procedures adopted by the office shall be informal, fair and cost-effective.

Analysts contend that establishment of the commercial court will go a long way in delivering justice to the general public that usually loses a lot when a financial institution goes bankrupt.

Over the past few years, several bankers who abused depositors’ funds have neither been charged nor prosecuted for their crimes.

While most depositors who used to bank with the now-defunct institutions have called for the prosecution of the bank’s respective management and boards, the bank owners are at the moment untouchable.

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