According to reports by Business Times, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange will resume trading on Monday 20th July after a 3-week closure announced by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Publicity Nick Mangwana. The bourse will reopen with three of it internationally traded counters Old Mutual, SeedCo International and PPC being suspended. Suggestions from within the government that these shares were being used in parallel market rate fixing and externalisation of funds even though Fungibility had been banned in May this year.

No official statement from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange or the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has been made yet.  In spite of this individual investors are excited about the return as the ZSE represents one of the few inflation-beating short term investment alternatives in Zimbabwe. In US dollar terms the ZSE was up 677.45% in Zimbabwean dollar terms and 127.35% up in US dollar terms since the start of 2020. The trade volumes below presented in Minister of Finance Professor Mthuli Ncube’s midterm budget review showed how much Zimbabweans had turned to the ZSE.

Zimbabwe Stock Exchange

Victoria Falls Stock Exchange

In his midterm budget review, the Finance Minister announced VFSE listed companies would be exempt from income tax. Meanwhile, shareholders in those companies would be exempt from Capital Gains Tax when selling their shares and only pay 5% dividend tax. The minister reiterated that the exchange will seek non-resident investors so there are muted celebrations in the market. Old Mutual after being in the spotlight and threatened with delisting was later suggested should be moved to the Victoria Falls Exchange. Shareholders would welcome the tax breaks. However, a lot still needs to be cleared up about this and whether SeedCo and PPC will also be pushed to the exchange remains to be seen. Also, if the exchange is for non-residents what happens to current resident shareholders?

Item

Unlisted

ZSE listed

VFSE listed

Corporate Tax

25%

25%

0%

Capital Gains Tax on Sale

10%

1%

0%

Dividend Withholding Tax

15%*

10%*

5%

* – Withholding taxes applied to foreign shareholders.

To say investor confidence was shaken by the closure of the ZSE. To underscore just how deep our problems are  Foreign Direct Investment in Zimbabwe is expected to shrink by an incredible 40% compared to 2019. A questionable time to be squabbling with one of the nation’s biggest investors. We wait with bated breath to see how markets respond if and when they open on Monday.