Zimbabwe regime denies army involvement in bourse, EcoCash shutdown

Nick Mangwana

GOVERNMENT has rubbished falsehoods published by CNBC, an American business news portal, alleging that security chiefs ordered the closure of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) and agent lines for mobile money transfers.

The malicious report appeared in the publication on Friday, once again exposing Western media’s penchant to propagate unsubstantiated information about Zimbabwe.

In the report, CNBC alleged that security forces had “seized control of economic and financial policy” in the country.

Quoting one Robert Besseling, who is executive director of political risk consultancy, EXX Africa, the report alleged private bank accounts were “likely to be raided to fund a bailout that is mostly benefiting politically-connected business allies of the governing elite”.

Speaking to The Sunday Mail, the Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana, said there was no semblance of truth to the allegations.

“There is absolutely no truth in these unfounded allegations that the military was involved in the actions taken by Government against malpractices taking place on the ZSE as well as mobile money operations.

“The Ministry of Information (Publicity and Broadcasting Services) issued the statement explaining to the nation what was going on because we speak for Government. The ZDF has a public relations department. If they were behind this, they were going to issue their own statement,” he said.

Mr Mangwana said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development had over the past few months been working diligently to address malpractices in the financial sector without any interference.

He questioned Mr Besseling’s capacity to speak on Zimbabwe, saying his comments were biased and unqualified.

The RBZ Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has in the past few months sharpened its teeth to deal with illicit financial activities plaguing the market.

In a recent statement, the FIU explained that its actions against the country’s dominant mobile money operator, EcoCash, were a result of extensive investigations.

“This was not an absolute ban, but simply required EcoCash to re-register, update and strengthen Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements for agents that transact high volumes, in line with Anti Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism laws.

“The move is meant to weed out illicit foreign currency dealers who are now the main drivers of high value/high volume transactions on the EcoCash platform, in the process destabilising and distorting the foreign currency market.

Last week, the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Philip Valerio Sibanda, warned the private media against dragging the military into their political scheming.

His statement came at a time some online media publications alleged that the military was part of a deceitful plan by the opposition to effect regime change on July 31.

“These claims and assertions are the work of very fertile imagination of the authors of these articles, which members of the public should dismiss with the contempt they deserve.

“They are aimed at unfairly using the security establishment to drum up support for their planned illegal anti-Government protests.

“It should be noted that, as a professional, loyal and patriotic Defence Force, the ZDF does not involve itself in anti-people activities that are designed to achieve anti-Government political and economic objectives by some malcontents within our citizenry,” General Sibanda said. – Sunday Mail