The Sunday News
Nkosilathi Sibanda, Sunday Business Correspondent
THE Deposit Protection Corporation (DPC) has opened an office in Bulawayo, as it moves to bring its services close to depositors in the southern part of the country.
The office is DPC’s first branch outside its headquarters in Harare. On the occasion of the Bulawayo office launch last Thursday, the corporation made a bold statement that it is geared towards raising awareness on deposit protection. The event ran under the theme “Taking Deposit Protection to the People”.
Previously, depositors had to endure long distances to Harare to get service. In his remarks, DPC board chairperson Mr Agmos Moyo said the opening of the new office was hinged on their objective to reach out to the provinces of Matabeleland.
“For us, as the Deposit Protection Corporation, establishing the Bulawayo office is strategic in that it helps us get closer to our stakeholders. It acts as a gateway communication channel especially for the Matabeleland and surrounding regions. This resonates well with the theme ‘Taking deposit protection to the people’”.
He said, since opening in Bulawayo, the DPC has received a number of enquiries, in particular to the concerns on the closure of banks.
“In a short space of time, the Bulawayo office helped to expedite issues and concerns of depositors especially closed banks. It also helped to save on time and resources, as they do not require travelling long distances to Harare to have their queries resolved.”
Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube heaped praise on DPC’s initiative of decentralising its operations.
In officially opening the Bulawayo office, Prof Ncube said the move by DPC was in harmony with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP).
“Initiatives such as this help to engender confidence in the financial sector by getting closer to the people and explaining to them their role and the benefits of depositing money in the formal banking institutions,” he said. Prof Ncube advised the DPC to work hard on financial inclusion.
“I implore the Deposit Protection Corporation to advance the agenda of financial inclusion as it is critical to achieve inclusive growth. Financial inclusion does not only involve one accessing credit or having an account, but having access to basic financial information so that individuals and small businesses can make informed decisions on financial matters. Government will continue to support Deposit Protection Corporation in any way possible to ensure depositor protection.”
The minister said the deposit protection scheme has come to the aid of ordinary depositors and banks, a situation that also bred confidence within the financial service sector.
“In the absence of an explicit Deposit Protection Scheme, depositors of the several failed banking institutions which went into liquidation would otherwise not have received any form of compensation. The scheme has greatly enhanced public confidence in the financial system as small depositors who usually suffer the worst consequences of a bank failure, have been guaranteed of protection by the existence of the Deposit Protection Scheme.”
DPC chief executive Mr Vusilizwe Vuma said so far, the Bulawayo office has recorded some success, with notable achievements being able to save clients on time.
“The DPC has been able to reach out to distant clients from both Matabeleland North and South, Midlands and Bulawayo who previously found our claims and queries costly. Within the first month of opening, there was an avalanche of clients whom we have successfully assisted.
“The reimbursement period for clients in the aforementioned areas has been drastically reduced. We have also noted an increase in the region due to various activities carried out by our staff in Bulawayo. This office will help the corporation to effectively communicate and address the needs of all our stakeholders within the region,” he said.
Mr Vuma highlighted that DPC is aware of the immense role technology plays in the financial sector.
“As a responsive institution we have embraced technology to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. We have partnered with mobile money operators to pay depositors in the remote parts of the country,” he said.
DPC, established in 2003, is an independent statutory body established by the Government under the DPC Act (Chapter 24:29), whose mandate encompasses the protection of depositors by providing an orderly means of compensation.