New Zimbabwe (London)

2 April 2014

Zimbabwe: Mliswa Pledges Z$ on Outstanding U.S.$12,5 Million RBZ Loan

Controversial businessman and Zanu PF politician Themba Mliswa has admitted he still owes the central bank part of the said $12.5 million loan but insists he will settle the debt in Zimbabwean dollar currency.

Mliswa told journalists in Harare Tuesday he had entered into the loan arrangement with the RBZ through his Salt Lakes Holdings June 2008, when the discarded currency was still in circulation.

This was to enable the tobacco merchant to purchase green leaf tobacco after failing to secure off-shore credit lines and was granted $5 million.

July same year, Salt Lakes, through their bankers Premier Banking Cooperation, was granted another $7,5 million.

Mliswa's firm was expected to pay back to the central bank once they processed and sold their tobacco by December 31 2008.

For RBZ to protect its interest, it was allegedly agreed that the money would be paid through the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) which would in turn remit the money to the central bank.

But a defiant Mliswa, who took the money in US dollars, Tuesday pledged to reimburse the debt in the local currency.

"We owe the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as well as the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe substantial amounts. I am not sure about the CBZ debt but I am sure we owe the RBZ about $5.8 million," Mliswa said.

The ex-Warriors fitness trainer said the tobacco merchant did not export the tobacco as had been agreed.

"We did not get $12.5 million and in the agreement there is a clause with regards the RBZ loan that we can pay it back in Zimbabwe dollars and that is what we are going to do. We will invoke that clause and pay them the money," Mliswa said.

The Hurungwe West MP, who is not new to controversy, is in the eye of a storm following revelations he facilitated meetings between erstwhile business partner Billy Rautenbach and top government officials.

Relations have since soured between the two in a bitter fallout that has spilled into local newspaper pages.

Mliswa accuses Rautenbach of refusing to pay him for the "consultancy" services, while the white businessman insists Mliswa is a sly character out to extort cash from him.

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