The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange is a small but active stock exchange in Africa. It was established in 1896 and has been open to foreign investment since 1993. It has about a dozen members and over 65 listed securities. There are two indices, the Zimbabwe Industrial Index and the Zimbabwe Mining Index.
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange operates according to the Stock Exchange Act (Chapter 198).
Companies may not allow more than 40% of their ownership (traded after 1993) to be foreign, and no single overseas shareholder can possess more than 10%. Those bringing in funds through a registered commercial bank may now repatriate their income and sale proceeds free of charge, but taxes of 15% on dividends and 10% on capital gains are levied on individuals. The Reserve Bank has placed fresh controls on dual listed shares: those importing foreign bought scrip now need permission to sell locally, while locally acquired dual listed scrip remains unsaleable outside Zimbabwe.
Trading days and times are Monday to Friday, 09:00 – 12:00. There is a basic Z$20 charge per transaction and per registration. Brokerage fees are 2% on transactions less than Z$50,000 to 1% on transactions over Z$100,000. There is a 20% tax on dividends levied semiannually and a 30% capital gains tax although this rate varies with the length of investment.
The Zimbabwe stock exchange is currently modernising its activities. New listing rules, a central scrip depository and a securities and exchange law are being prepared. The new listing rules conform with similar listing laws in the 14 member Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) so as to make it easier for companies to seek dual listing in any of the SADC states. The ZSE is also attempting to prevent insider trading in shares, particularly by company directors. The establishment of a central scrip depository (at an estimated Z$19m) is planned and, in the absence of electronic trading, will greatly speed up processing of share dealings, which currently can take several weeks. It is hoped that this will be established by 1999.
The ZSE is an active member of the SADC’s Stock Exchange Committee (SADCSEC) which includes Botswana, South Africa, Mauritius, Zambia, Lesotho and Namibia.
In 1995, 404.7 million shares worth Z$1.3 billion were traded compared to 450.8 million shares then valued at Z$1.44 billion in 1994.
During 1996, the Zimbabwean Stock Exchange market capitalisation surged 165%, from Z$19,9 billion to Z$52,8 billion (roughly US$ 4,87 billion), making it one of the star emerging market performers. This was due in some part to the listing of Ashanti Goldfields following its takeover of Cluff Resources. With more than 40% of company performances linked to farm output, the industrial index soared from 3972 to 8786 between January and December in 1996. A total of 722,667,658 shares were bought and sold, valued at Z$2.6 billion.
In 1997 1.19 billion shares worth Z$6.45 billion were traded . The value of shares traded on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange more than doubled in 1997 to around Z$6.5 billion, despite volatile trading during the last month of the year. Just over one billion shares changed hands between local and foreign buyers and sellers.
During 1998, Zimbabwe’s stock market, once regarded as one of the most promising emerging markets in the region, saw a decline in turnover to 60% of the previous year’s volumes and 88% of its value of shares sold. 1998’s fall was attributed to high interest rates which attracted investors to the higher yielding money market, and to a loss of confidence caused by a number of factors such as social unrest (including food protests and mass stay-aways) and the government’s stated intention to acquire commercial farms for resettlement.
Qualifications for a Listing
A company wishing to apply for a listing on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange must conform with the listing rules and regulations of the Listing Committee of the Exchange. These include:
- a minimum requirement of one million shares with a value of not less than $500 000
- a minimum of 30% of the issued equity capital being offered to the public
- compliance with the the requirements of the Exchange by the company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association (regardless of whether this is a legal requirement)
- the existence of a spread of shareholders wide enough to justify the listing (a minimum of approximately 300 shareholders)
- provision of the name, history and description of the company’s interests and activities
- a report by the company’s auditors for the last five financial years
- forecast earnings and dividends
- details of share capital structure, loan capital and borrowing powers
New listing rules are planned.