22 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Securities Commission Must Stamp Its Authority On ZSE

The announcement this week by the Securities Commission of Zimbabwe that they will probe trading activities on the equities market is a welcome development. For a long time the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange has been operating as an elitist "boys club" without any authority to answer to. For the uninitiated, there was no room for outsiders and it was a rare privilege to get an insight into how the transactions were conducted on a daily basis.

There appeared to be an element of guarded secrecy over how things were done at the bourse.

There was even some resistance when the Securities Commission, a statutory body, came onto the scene and the old guard tried to make their work difficult.

As reality sank in and all pointers went towards professional and ethical behaviour on the bourse, they began warming up to the SECZ.

While the ZSE is supposed to operate as a safe haven for both small and large investors on the equities market, it appeared to continue operating as a cartel.

Trade worth millions of dollars was taking place under a shroud of secrecy and they could not be touched by anybody, let alone SECZ that was born out of an Act of Parliament.

Reforms that have been taking place over the past few years are set to herald a new era for the ZSE and we are pleased to note that SECZ has started flexing its muscles.

It is our hope and expectation that unfair and unethical business practices that gave birth to speculative tendencies will be brought to light and corrective measures are taken.

Elements of insider trading should be stemmed and in the interests of transparency, punitive action including prosecution of the culprits should be highlighted.

Trading on the ZSE was at some point stopped by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe because of the prevalence of unethical behaviour by a clique of some stockbrokers that had gone into overdrive.

Whereas in some economies the stock exchange works as the barometer of the economy, this sadly has not been the case for Zimbabwe and this has been mainly caused by the absence of an inclusive participation of all stakeholders.

Armed with a Statutory Instrument, we hope that SECZ will get down to work and earn their dollar.

Of late we have read of special bargains and massive movements of shares among some of the big players on the ZSE with very little or no explanation of the transactions.

It is in the public interest for listed companies to conduct their operations in a transparent manner.

We should not scrounge for information when it is supposed to be available for all who care to know about what is going on.

While there could be some animosity for those resisting change there is no doubt that with time there will be buy in from all the stakeholders as best practice steers the way.

There is no doubt that activity on the bourse is expected to be accelerated as the process gets into gear and the glory days will return when we were judged as the best on the continent outside South Africa.

With transparency as the key word, there is no need to fear any witch-hunting for the stockbrokers as it will be done in the best interests of professional and ethical behaviour.

It is unfortunate that the demutualisation of the ZSE appears to have taken much longer than expected, but all the pointers are for a speedy implementation now that all the obstacles have been cleared.

It has been a rough and bumpy ride and the destination is now in sight and SECZ should rightfully stamp its authority as the regulator and lay down the rules of how the game should be played.

It is in the interest of all stakeholders to promote fair play and those bent on trickery should find somewhere else to operate.

Copyright © 2012 The Herald. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.