The Securities Commission of Zimbabwe (www.seczim.co.zw) has declined to grant the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (www.zse.co.zw – under maintenance), an operating licence, according to local media, and is challenging the exchange to provide a business plan. The Financial Gazette reports that the ZSE failed to provide critical information demanded by the regulator. ZSE CEO, Emmanuel Munyukwi, reportedly dismissed the SECZ claims, saying the exchange had complied with all requirements in terms of the law: “There is nothing like that. As far as I know we have confirmed and verified that all the required information is with the regulator,” he said.
According to a report in Zimbabwe Independent SECZ CEO Tafadzwa Chinamo summoned all members of the ZSE to attend a meeting. The Commission is reported to be concerned that the exchange has not automated and done away with the current paper-based trading system, despite suggesting that could happen by the end of 2011. However, the call-over meetings in Zimbabwe are often more active and lively than the screens of some of the less liquid African exchanges, which may even only record a few deals a day.
SECZ also said only 3 out of 20 stock-broking firms had been registered by the commission as having sufficient capitalization to continue and would issue their licences by circular. The regulator said there was concern that the exchange and most stock-broking companies did not get enough income to cover their expenses and remain viable, due to falling trading volumes. The Commission charges a yearly fee of US$3,000 for stock-broking firms and US$1,500 for individual stockbrokers.
According to the reports, the SECZ accused members of abandoning the exchange, given its current state of affairs, saying they needed to be proactive in the development and running of the exchange. It issued a circular to stockbrokers saying the ZSE had to comply with its licencing requirements and had to provide SECZ with information specified in Section 30 of the Securities Act, like other capital market intermediaries and “given that it operates as a Self Regulatory Organisation”.
The capital markets regulator reportedly wrote: “It is worrying therefore that the commission has not yet issued the ZSE an operating license due to the failure by the ZSE to provide the required information. Of particular concern to the commission is the non-submission of the 2010 financial statements which would enable the commission to verify the exchange’s capital adequacy. Also of concern is the lack of a business plan to satisfy the commission that the ZSE is working towards specific goals in developing the market.
“The exchange is owned by the members and as such it is the responsibility of members to ensure its smooth running. Members have a responsibility to resource the ZSE and see to it that the necessary management structures are established and supervised for the day- to-day operations of the exchange,” said Chinamo. “As the Commission we have reason to conclude that members have abandoned this responsibility and we seek to establish members’ position.”
The meeting was adjourned after brokers failed to reach consensus and they have nominated a 5-member committee, working under acting ZSE board chairperson Eve Gadzikwa, to sort out several issues affecting the viability and integrity of the exchange and report within a week. The committee includes veteran stockbrokers, Tediuos Matsaira, Bart Mswaka, Jeff Mhlanga, Edward Mapokotera and Rufaro Zengeni.
Chinamo reportedly added: “Given the important role members play in operating the exchange the Commission is concerned by the non-transparent manner in which new members are admitted. Several applications are awaiting approval months after submission resulting, in a number of firms operating without two brokers as stipulated in the SEC rules.” One broker was reported as saying that only having 30 stockbrokers was a limitation: “I believe that if the membership grows the bigger the pool of ideas we have and this can increase the pace of transformation of the market,” a leading broker indicated.