HARARE – Zimbabwean mobile money giant Ecoash has responded to a statement issued on 26 June 2020 by the country’s Ministry of Information notifying Zimbabweans of the suspension of mobile money transfer services in Zimbabwe. The response exposes the lack of policy coordination in the once-prosperous nation after the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services went ahead of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in communicating of such consequential monetary policy developments to the world.
A senior official at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe who spoke to our Zimbabwe correspondent Carol Mvundura confided in her that relevant authorities at the Apex Bank only became aware of this development after reading the ” Wolves in Sheep’s Skin” press statement by the Information Secretary Nick Mangwana. The Wolves in Sheep’s Skin” phrase is in reference to president Mnangagwa’s pre-emptive remarks at the burial of liberation war hero Stanley Nleya at the national shrine in Harare recently where he again threatened what he termed ” wolves in sheep’s skin amongst our population” with unspecified action.
In it’s customer notice, Ecocash allayed fears to its over 10 million subscribers. The mobile money giant shredded the circulating press statement on meritocracy, emphasizing that it has not received any formal communications on these developments from it’s regulatory authority – RBZ . ” We urge all Ecocash users who exceed 10 million Zimbahweans, the majority of whom do not have bank accounts , to remain calm and to continue to do your lawful transactions as usual”, the statement said.
Ecocash’s notice to customers has effectively drawn the line for Zimbabwean authorities to clearly take a position, with both options at their disposal carrying a heavy price. If authorities insist on the ban, which had no prior RBZ approvals, this will not only confirm to the perennial economic policy inconsistencies and internal power battles in Zanu PF that have reduced Zimbabwe to a basket case, but will paint a Zimbabwe negatively on the global map. Zimbabwe will formally become an unsafe investment destination for legitimate local and international investors as the independence of the monetary authorities would have been publicly compromised. The ban will also open Zimbabwe for legal battles whose economic and political implications will far- outweigh the purported gains of this directive.
Assuming that monetary authorities disown this directive, another political tug of war will erupt in the Zanu PF led government as authors of this directive react to its rebukes.
ENN insists that without a boost in national productivity, the promotion of foreign currency generation, a full liberalisation of the exchange rate, national economic policy consistencies and predictability, a united governance approach, and putting an end to all forms of corruption, Zimbabwe’s economic recovery prospects will remain a pipe-dream.
Ecocash is an offshoot of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, a diversified mobile network operator. Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa owns over 50% of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, and is also a major shareholder of Africa’s largest fiber optic and satellite services company, Liquid Telecom. He is the 19th richest man in Africa, according to Forbes. Econet Wireless was founded in 1998 after a protracted legal battle with government over it’s licensing. Today, Econet Zimbabwe is a market leader across all product segments, with an 84% revenue market share; 78% voice market share; 65% data traffic market share; 94% Ecocash subscriber market share; and a 68% LTE network infrastructure market share, official reports confirm.