Mobile money operator, EcoCash, has urged its users to remain calm and continue transacting despite a suspension of all monetary transactions on phone-based mobile money platforms by government, saying if any changes arises it will give adequate notice as stipulated by the law.
The government’s measure intended to facilitate intrusive investigations, leading to the arrest and prosecution of the said ‘economic saboteurs’. However, EcoCash has played a critical role in facilitation activity between Zimbabweans in circumstances of acute liquidity challenges. The cash in and cash out facilities are core to the EcoCash system.
In a notice to its valued customers, EcoCash said: “We are aware of a statement purporting to have been issued by the Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services that purports to ban all mobile money transactions.
“However, EcoCash is regulated by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and would naturally expect a directive of that nature and significance to be communicated by the RBZ,” reads the notice.
Due to the serial collapse of banking institution in Zimbabwe, according to media reports, the size of the banked population had reduced to less than 10 percent of the population when EcoCash was introduced in September 2011.
“We urge all EcoCash users who exceed 10 million Zimbabweans, the majority whom do not have bank accounts, to remain calm and to continue to do your lawful transactions as usual. Should there be any changes, we shall give you adequate notice as required by the law,” EcoCash added.
The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) said the government must urgently reconsider and revise the pronounced measure. “Channel efforts towards addressing a flawed economic model that promotes under dealings by a few elites and politically exposed persons fuelling the parallel economy and arrest and prosecute the said ‘economic saboteurs’ since there is claim of “impeccable evidence” instead of punishing innocent citizens already suffering from the economic meltdown,” it said.
Mobile money platforms have played a crucial role in providing relief support in humanitarian crisis and disaster situations – noting that Zimbabwe faces multiple crises of health, food and economic nature, the announced measure is therefore untimely.
“This is sad. This explains why all the US$17 billion foreign direct investment pledges the country got in 2018 vanished. You can’t fool an investor that Zimbabwe is open for business,” said one twitter user.