22 January 2018

Zimbabwe: Companies Act Set to Be Revamped Within 100 Days - Ziyambi

Government is in the process of revamping the Companies, Deeds and Intellectual Property Department as well as amending the "opaque" Companies Act so as to stimulate local and foreign investment and improve the ease of doing business.

In an interview this week, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said as part of his ministry's 100-day plan, the Deeds department will be revamped at a cost of US$78 000. The need to correctly capture and verify information on mortgage bonds and other encumbrances on title is one of the priorities.

"There is also need to capture statutory updates for registered companies. Except for name searches, all processes are manual," Ziyambi's 100-day action plan reads.

Ziyambi said it is important to enable online deeds search and to update the companies' database. The purpose of these targets, according to Ziyambi, is to stimulate local and foreign investment due to efficient access to information.

"(The) public can access services from anywhere in the world; reduced costs of maintaining the deeds and company collection through efficient collection systems and blockage of current leakages; reducing corruption by limiting personal interaction and physical conduct between clients and officers," the work plan states. Ziyambi is also looking at amending "an outdated and opaque Companies Act", which he describes as not reflective of post-independence business ideals. The amendment of the Companies Act has been on the cards for a long time and has been stifled by lack of funding.

Moreover, Ziyambi said the formation and registration of companies was complex, adding there is poor corporate governance in companies. To address corporate governance issues, Ziyambi said, the Attorney-General's Office would draft a Bill after which a stakeholders' workshop would be held before the Bill is tabled in parliament.

He said the purpose of the Companies and Other Business Entities Bill was to help protect shareholders and investors, in particular minority shareholders; as well as improved ease of doing business through simplified, decentralised and quick company formation and registration.

In the past, the public has complained that it takes too long to register a property.

There has also been suspected corruption and alleged mismanagement at the Deeds Office that has seen fake title deeds flooding the property market.

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