The main rationale of prudential bank regulation and supervision of banks has traditionally been to ensure the safety and soundness of banks and protection of depositors. However, best practice standards in bank supervision acknowledge that it is impossible to completely prevent bank failures. Therefore, it is crucial to have regulatory measures in place to deal with banks that fail. Banks are core players in the financial system as the intermediaries between savers and users of capital. In addition, banks provide critical services to consumers, small and medium-sized businesses, large corporate entities and governments who rely on them to conduct their daily business, both at domestic and international level.
Banks also fulfil a sui generis role that sets them apart from other financial institutions that are role players in the financial system because, inter alia, they hold “highly” liquid liabilities in the form of deposits that are repayable on demand; they extend long-term loans that may be difficult to sell or borrow against on short notice; they are the back-up source of liquidity to all other institutions (financial and non-financial); and, are also the transmission belt for monetary policy. Unlike other players in the financial system, banks are vulnerable to loss of public confidence and to liquidity risk. Liquidity risk being the risk that a bank will not have sufficient cash to meet short term obligations and the fact that a "run on the bank" by depositors can result in devastating liquidity drainage. Because banks play a special role in the economy and their failure may have a significant impact on financial stability, they need a special approach when they become insolvent or are likely to become insolvent.
The 2008 Global Financial Crisis (“GFC”) demonstrated the importance of special resolution regimes for banks; and the need to balance the interests of shareholders, creditors and depositors, while promoting financial stability objectives. Given the critical role of banks in the economy the need is clear for a special resolution regime for banks that provides a legal framework for regulators that avails to them a suite of resolution tools which they can apply to resolve the bank in an orderly manner; to rescue those parts of the bank that may still be viable and to liquidate those parts that are not whilst avoiding a drain on public funds.
In order to deal with bank failures in Zimbabwe, the Banking Act [Chapter 24:20] has provided for the mechanism of curatorship since 2000, as a rescue measure aimed at restoring failing banks to economic viability. Curatorship has over the years been applied with mixed success; consequently, Zimbabwe has undertaken a number of reforms which include the enactment of the Troubled Financial Institutions (Resolution) Act in 2005; and the introduction of the problem bank regime via the Banking Amendment Act of 2015. Throughout these reforms, Zimbabwe has elected to retain curatorship, which was once a standalone process in banking legislation to enable bank rescue; and assimilated it into a broader bank resolution framework.
This study seeks to determine whether Zimbabwe’s resolution regime requires to be strengthened and if so, to recommend reforms that will align the resolution regime in Zimbabwe with international best practice. For such purpose it will draw upon the Financial Stability Board’s Key Attributes of Effective Resolution Regime as international best practice benchmark. It will further also consider guidance yielded by a comparative study of the resolution regimes in the United Kingdom and South Africa.