Trade automation set for June 19 . . . as ZSE moves to Ballantyne Park

ZSEHappiness Zengeni and Martin Kadzere
THE Zimbabwe Stock Exchange is targeting a go-live date on its automation project of June 19 but it will next week relocate from the central business district to Ballantyne Park, a move which could create logistical challenges for stockbrokers and block out inquiries from walk-in investors.

Analysts say from a cost point of view, the move would make sense but it would be ideal if the exchange had completed its automation process. That way, the stockbrokers would not need to drive all the way to 44 Ridgeway North.

The ZSE contracted Infotech Middle East FZ LLC to install and supply the Capizar ATS. At present, the central business district is a central place which is easily accessible by the stockbrokers, some of whom are in Mt Pleasant, Eastlea and Newlands.

“Had the exchange been automated, it wouldn’t be a problem to move to Ballantyne Park as the operations will be more like a back-office. Further to that the trading room at the new premises is small and announcements were made to the effect that stockbrokers from different companies will be sharing spaces. We wonder why the secretariat rushed to make this decision,” said a stockbroker who declined to be named.

The move to Ballantyne Park has drawn fierce criticism from various sectors of the economy who say the ZSE will now be more of an elitist club and will not be easily accessible to would-be small time investors who require more information. Parliamentarians and lobby groups have all issued statements to that regard.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance Mr David Chapfika said while big stock exchange players will always find their way out, relocating the exchange to Ballantyne Park will mean that small players will be excluded.

A member of the parliamentary committee, Mr Eddie Cross, said it was important for the ZSE to remain in the CBD considering its importance in the economy’s matrix.

However, ZSE interim chairperson Mrs Eve Gadzikwa defended the decision saying the move was necessitated by high rentals.

“We interrogated the issue as a board and approvals were done after realising the merits. When the matter was tabled, (and) there was no opposition from other board members,” she said.

The decision to move was made when there were ownership wrangles between stockbrokers and Government and as such there were no clear lines of accountability or feedback.

A company contracted to renovate the new ZSE office is doing final touches on the building.

From the explanations Mrs Gadzikwa proffered, it is evident that the bourse considered only the economic side of things and ignored the interests of other stakeholders.

Analysts feel that the ZSE should have remained in the CBD for the good of everyone who deals with the institution, as its new inconvenient location gave it an elitist image. Others feel that if the ZSE was too concerned about the cost of renting out property it is currently occupying, the amount used to purchase and refurbish the new property was enough to purchase another one in a location closer to the CBD.

The Black Business Forum said the ZSE was an important instrument in the drive of foreign direct investments but its conduct of late has been painfully disappointing. The Herald Business failed to get a comment from ZSE chief executive Alban Chirume as his phone went unanswered.

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