Two South African seed companies have obtained orders from Zimbabwe's High Court to attach assets of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to settle debts totaling some US$5 million, legal sources said Wednesday.
Central bank property was already being auctioned off in a separate case to cover a US$2.1 million debt owed by the RBZ Farmtech Spares and Implements for tractors purchased for a farm mechanization scheme.
Lawyers for Seedco International and Advance Seed of South Africa said they have instructed the sheriff to start attaching RBZ assets to cover their claims.
They said the Zimbabwean central bank failed to pay for maize and sorghum seed supplied by their clients under agricultural input schemes in 2006 and 2007.
Lawyer Innocent Chagonda, representing Seedco, told reporter Gibbs Dube that his clients have asked to share the proceeds of auctions already under way under the High Court order obtained by Farmtech.
“We are aware that there are other companies that have sued the central bank over a couple of outstanding debts and as such we need to move with speed to attach its property,” Chagonda said.
Attorney Thembinkosi Magwaliba, representing Advance Seed, said the sheriff is expected to attach whatever RBZ assets he can to settle the US$1.3 million debt owed by the RBZ to his clients.
Central bank sources said several other companies are planning to sue the bank over outstanding debts.
The central bank owes millions to non-governmental organizations and private businesses for hard-currency accounts it looted to fund the operations of the previous government of President Robert Mugabe, and to meet obligations to mining companies for gold.