Minister Matiza in NRZ funding storm

TRANSPORT minister Joel Biggie Matiza could have mislead parliament this week when he told legislators that South African rail, port and pipeline company, Transnet, and Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) failed to mobilise the US$400 million required to recapitalise the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) despite being furnished with indicative bank term sheets totalling close to US$1 billion, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.

According to the financing term sheets, seen by the Independent, Standard Bank is ready to shell out between US$100 million and US$137 million, Absa (US$200 million), Nedbank (US$200 million) and Nedbank Zimbabwe (US$17,5 million) and the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (US$100 million). Ecobank Kenya has also expressed commitment to channel US$100 million towards the project, while Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank will provide US$75 million.

The Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe has a US$50 million war chest.

This comes as Matiza and a cabal of senior NRZ managers, as well as transaction and legal advisers are said to be trying to sabotage the deal under the pretext of lack of funding to bring in their Chinese investors into the project through the back door.

Matiza on Wednesday told parliament that the South African-based consortium, which won the bid to revamp Zimbabwe’s dilapidated rail network in 2015, is struggling to secure funding for NRZ.

The minister was answering a question from independent MP Temba Mliswa.

However, DIDG said yesterday it had given Matiza documentation on the bank term sheets from various financial institutions that have mobilised close to US$1 billion to bankroll the project.

DIDG said Matiza was given proof of funding during all stakeholders meeting on October 1, 2018. The minister, however, says the term sheets are not binding, but DIDG insists that final term sheets — binding agreements setting forth the basic terms and conditions under which funding will be made — will only be issued upon completion and signing of all the relevant agreements for the project.

Protracted talks among parties to the deal were extended by a further six months in March to allow agreements to be finalised,but Matiza says NRZ has opened fresh negotiations with other suitors amid reports the minister and his allies want to smuggle in the Chinese into the deal without going to tender using the new non-exclusivity clause introduced during the extension of the framework agreement.

Term sheets seen by the Independent from various banks show that by October last year, the consortium […]

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