Deputy News Editor
The death of former Agribank chief executive officer, Mr Somkhosi Malaba, has robbed Zimbabwe’s financial services sector in general, and Agribank in particular, of a reliable and hard-working person. Mr Malaba died peacefully in his sleep yesterday morning. He was 65.
It is understood he succumbed to kidney failure after strongly fighting it in the last 12 years.
Acting Agribank chief executive officer Mr Elfas Chimbera told The Herald Finance & Business yesterday that the death came as a great shock to him and the entire bank’s management.
“It came as a great shock to me because I had spoken to him on Wednesday or is it Tuesday over the phone and he appeared to be doing well and when I was told of his death, initially I didn’t believe the news until I spoke to a relative of his who confirmed the death,” said Mr Chimbera.
“The whole management is shocked by this sudden death. He was dedicated to Agribank such that despite retiring, he still contacted us to check how we are doing.
“He transformed the bank from a traditional loss-making parastatal to a profitable one, so it’s really sad that he has died. We console the family and assure them that it is not only them that have lost, but the entire nation because he worked diligently at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and even in Government.”
Mr Joseph Mverecha, an economist who was trained by Mr Malaba since 1992 when he joined the RBZ as an assistant economist said a “great tree has fallen”.
“A great man and genuine professional completely devoted to his country; Mr Malaba was a unique leader and accomplished economist. He will be remembered for his vast, unassailable contribution to the banking sector, macroeconomic policy and the entire economy of Zimbabwe,” said Mr Mverecha.
“A highly analytical, keenly intuitive mind, carefully precise to a point — an exactitude and pervading thoroughness — these were the hall marks and imprint of everything he touched. He championed the turnaround of Agribank with the determination and energy of a war horse.
“Boundless energy, ebullient and always exploring ways to improve the performance of Agribank. He will now rest in peace knowing that the labour he bestowed for the bank is like a mustard seed — beginning small, but on its way to becoming the largest bank in Zimbabwe.”
Former Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president and United Refineries Limited chief executive officer Mr Busisa Moyo, turned to Twitter yesterday and wrote: “Hard to accept he is gone. A fellow president at the Bankers Association. Instrumental in the Lima Debt conversations in 2015-2017.
“Served with us on PAC (Presidential Advisory Council). Former Agribank CEO. May the Lord strengthen the family at this time of loss. The memory of you lives!”
His family met yesterday afternoon to discuss burial arrangements, which could not be established by the time of going to print.
Mr Malaba retired from Agribank at the end January this year after 16 years at the helm of the financial institution. He was appointed chief executive in May 2004 after serving as the deputy governor of the RBZ for six years from August 1998 to April 2004.
His appointment as at RBZ came after 16 years of service at different senior levels within the central bank.