Zimbabwe mobile operators called to further national interests

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The Zimbabwean government has been commended for its firm stance in fighting illegal dealings connected with the foreign currency black market to restore mobile money platforms to their original purpose.

Following mobile operator’s non-compliance with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in the fight against illegal money changers using their systems, the government on Friday, through Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Mr Nick Mangwana announced the suspension of mobile money transactions on phone-based mobile money platforms and trading on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE).
The move which is aimed at curbing and investigating illicit activities has been met with mixed reactions from the public with a Zimbabwean analyst applauding the government for its firm position.

London based Zimbabwean Economist, Lazarus Nyagumbo who spoke to the ZBC News said, mobile operators have to put national interests first and comply with the government.

“Mobile money technology is very good for individual, household, business and national economy, it brings significant convenience, cuts transport or shoe leather costs going to physical banks to transact,” he said.

“However, when mobile money is not fully regulated, the Central Bank may provide fertile grounds for illicit transactions, money laundering, illegal money creation.  For instance, the Zimbabwe exchange rate has been under pressure from illegal exchange rates manipulators, taking advantage of United States Dollar scarcity and arbitrage opportunities. This is one of the primary causes of inflation among others.

Money creation is the sole responsibility of central banks, well-regulated and supervised banks can use statutory reserve ratio, money multiplier to enhance financial transmission, credit availability to give loans to businesses and households to boost investment and consumption towards sustainable economic recovery growth and development.

“However, Ponzi mobile schemes are detrimental to our domestic currency stability and low inflation environment. Stakeholders in mobile money markets must put national interest first before individual self-serving exchange rate manipulation. It’s a welcome development, bringing sanity and order in our financial markets.”

Citizens took to microblogging site, Twitter to express their views on the matter.

“This is good news, the poor must get their money on ATM’s where they do not get robbed. Some Mobile Money agents(name withheld) are a bunch of thieves who never know a single days work and besides, where do they get the cash? They are moneychangers disguised electronically and part of the wider network of saboteurs,” said @21gunzandroses.

“Mobile operators (name withheld) were abused by the originators and the rest joined in the fray of looting through the platform. That has to be stopped, and that is once and for all,” said another @Charega1.

“Shutting down of #Ecocash was long overdue. The facility has been operating as a parallel “RBZ” for too long, creating virtual money and pushing up rates thru forex trade. Shuwa kusvika pakuita (to the point of having an) excess of ZWL$8 billion distributed across just over 501 000 agent/merchant lines ???,” tweeted @nicolehondo.

The government is set to put measures in place to ensure the protection of citizens use of the platforms while monitoring that the same platforms are not abused. – ZBC