Elizabeth Andreya Features Writer
Severe cash shortages affecting the country have left a lot of people looking for other alternatives, since EcoCash agents are now demanding large percentages for cash-out facilities.
Although technology is playing a huge role in solving part of this problem as some people are now paying their bills using EcoCash or swipe, to some there is no difference as some business owners are now denying plastic and mobile money platforms, or if they are accepting them, the prices of the goods and services will be higher if one pays using mobile money or plastic money.
Only a few individuals are getting their salaries as cash these days.
The majority is being paid using EcoCash or bank transfers, which is making it difficult to access cash, leaving many people resorting to ‘other painful’ alternatives.
Most people now buy goods in bulk using EcoCash, in shops where they accept the service, and then resell them at the same price or even lower on cash basis.
Takudzwa Muchena from Chitungwiza buys bread in bulk at $15 per loaf at a local bakery using EcoCash in Zengeza 3, and resells it at the same price or at $10 per loaf in cash.
In an interview with The Herald, Muchena said this was a better option as compared to cash-out because EcoCash agents are demanding 50 percent of the sum required in cash.
“I found this better than cashing-out from an EcoCash agent, who will demand half of my money to give me cash. Now I get all of my money when I sell bread in my area.
“Even if I sell at a lower price, it is still reasonable, because it’s like doing EcoCash cash-out at 12 percent, which is way lower than the 50 percent required by agents,” he said.
A woman, who sells ladies shoes downtown, also said she buys the shoes at $25 and $30 per pair in Chinese-owned shops, and resells them at the same price in the street for cash.
Other people are even buying airtime and reselling it at 70c for $1 vouchers. People are finding it better to buy goods using EcoCash and resell them for cash. For others it is fine to use new transfer technologies like mobile money and plastic money, but the problem comes when they want to board kombis or buy groceries in tuck shops where only cash is accepted.
In some retail shops like OK, Pick n Pay and Choppies, it is not uncommon to see a lot of people milling around asking fellow shoppers for cash so that they could use their bank cards or EcoCash to settle their bills.
On Tuesday, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Dr John Mangudya said new $5 notes and $2 coins will be in circulation within a fortnight to ease cash shortages that have resulted in cash barons charging premiums of up to 60 percent and the unscrupulous breaking of the law with two-tier pricing for digital money and cash.
Zimbabweans pin their hopes on the new notes and coins.
Without easy access to cash Zimbabweans will remain burdened, and, therefore, become easy prey to unscrupulous EcoCash agents and other cash merchants.