ecocash
Editorial

Closing Down Ecocash Agents Is an Attack on The Poor

A reactionary in the words of Aneurin Bevan is “someone who is facing the future but chooses to walk backwards.”

Being reactionary is what best describes the move that RBZ took on the issue pertaining to shutting down EcoCash cash in and cash-outs.

This closure is an ill-thought idea that will cost thousands of people jobs and affect millions of lives.

It is common sense that the future of money is digital. Digital platforms for transacting is where the world is moving. A lot of investment was made to get people to adopt the technology here in Zimbabwe and the financial inclusion of millions that has resulted is something that is a matter of national pride.

Zimbabwe is marvelled as one of the best countries in regards to the adoption of mobile money which is by all standards one of the few positive things that we have as a country. Ecocash has employed more than 50 000 merchants directly and millions more depend on Ecocash to conveniently.and securely transact.

Granted in the last few months we have had some rogue criminal elements abusing the facility. However, this abuse must be put into proper context. There are questions that must be reflected on.

What is the reason for the abuse?

In my own view, the issue was about supply and demand. The abnormal situation that we have found in our country is that money has become a commodity. This is very abnormal and the blame for this lies squarely on the central bank. The demand for notes has to be met by the government.

Who was abusing the facility?

It should also be investigated on who the players who were moving money are and selling money. In such a poor country as ours, not many people can pull off such capital intensive schemes unless of course if they are connected to the elite politicians. We have also seen these money traders with brand new crisp notes obviously fresh from the bank, where we’re they getting them?

What was the scale of the abuse?

The abuse that was being done was most pronounced in Harare. However, Harare is not Zimbabwe and vice-versa. If you look at the numbers you will realise that most of the users who will be affected are in the rural areas where such activities were not taking place. Surely the whole country cannot be punished for the misdeeds of a few!

Who stands to lose?

The real losers in the shutting down of Ecocach facilities are not the culprits that were extorting the public who obviously have political connections, but the ordinary person mostly youth trying to etch an honest living. The real losers are the poor vendors on the streets and the poor folk in the rural areas. Shutting down someone’s business and livelihood just like that is tantamount to robbery! The government on its own stands to lose a lot of revenue in this, money that can be used to build schools, hospitals and roads and improve the livelihoods of the suffering people.

There is an adage that you don’t throw away the baby with the bathwater. The fundamentals must be put in place including cash supply. Regulations must be put in place to punish the connected elite few that we’re the hand behind the abuse of the facility not the majority of innocent users.

It should be realised that the growth of Ecocash was as a result of it being a solution to the cash crisis that our country continues to face. Closing down EcoCash is a direct attack on the poor. Our country is already in a bad place, we are in a big pit and the government should stop digging. We need cool heads in the central bank. Unreasonable haste is the direct road to error, people are suffering enough as it is due to hyperinflation and government must not make it worse.

In regards to becoming a digital economy thanks to Ecocash and it’s an innovation we were leading the pack and I hope the courts and government will do the right thing to take us into the future and not to the past.

Philomina Musekiwa
Journalist, visual communicator, social media manager

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