HARARE: Zimbabwe’s mining companies say local banks are delaying processing of foreign payments by three months as the country battles a shortage of dollars, which could threaten production.
Mining accounts for more than half of the country's export earnings, which amounted to $1,3 billion in the first nine months of 2016.
Zimbabwe, which is battling a banknote shortage, last year imposed a priority list for foreign payments and banned non-critical imports to manage the little available foreign currency.
On the list, payments for critical inputs for the productive sector are given high priority but a Chamber of Mines economist Pardon Chitsuro told a Parliamentary Committee on Finance that miners were facing delays of up to three months to have their payments processed.
“We have been facing a crippling foreign payments gridlock with delays of up to 12 weeks impacting negatively on production….we continue to appeal to the reserve bank to prioritize the mining sector in light of its centrality in terms of generating foreign exchange,” he said.
Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) president Charity Jinya told the committee that an increase in the volume of transactions had put a strain on the banks’ systems.
“Delays differ from bank to bank but depending on the priority, it can be well beyond a month behind before the request is processed.”