Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Plastic Money: The Big Game Changer

By Dr James Madzimure

I have been listening carefully to the financial debate in Zimbabwe in view of the recent cash crisis. In certain corners people argued that it was an artificial shortage to create room for the acceptance of the bond notes.

Dr James Madzimure
Dr James Madzimure

Whether they are good or bad, I don’t know, only God knows. I have been pondering how sustainable the issue of bond notes will be? Will it pass the acid test of being accepted by the suspecting populace? Won’t we run the risk of wasting resources printing notes in Germany that will be littered in the streets like Dr Gono’s $100 trillion?

People are really afraid that their hard earned currency will be mopped out in exchange for printed bond notes. I overheard someone saying after mopping the foreign currency from the market then people will have no option than adopting the bond notes as official currency. Of course these are comments from people who no longer trust the authorities. An old proverb says once bitten twice shy.

My write up is not on whether the bond notes are good or bad, the people will decide when it is released October as promised. The authorities should sale the idea to the public carefully without coercion bearing in mind that even the street vendor has power to accept or refuse the bond notes.

In my personal opinion, I think the use of plastic money and minimising withdrawing charges is the best way foward. Major business should be encouraged to invest in technology that allows consumers to swipe at the point of sale. Someone once said it is expensive to do so but I think it is very possible.

Big wholesalers like Mahommad Mussa cannot fail to do so. We must ensure that people from other nations we are giving business licences bank the money in our country instead of illegally sending it back to their homes. These are some of the major culprits and even authorities know it. But they want the ordinary Zimbabwean to bear the consequences while culprits are allowed to continue basking in the sun like baby elephants.

All big businesses must bank their money instead of keeping it in ceilings or underground safes of their houses. I wonder why I need to carry cash to buy fuel at any Fuel Station; they should just allow us to swipe.

Platforms like mobile banking could contribute significantly to reducing cash crisis. Unfortunately their charges are too exorbitant. We must all have a mindset of building our nation than milking it mercilessly. However, we need serious commitment to reduce point of sale transaction charges if using online payment system is to be more acceptable.

A cheap, functional and widely spread online payment system will encourage us not to hold to cash but instead deposit it. The current case is not conducive for the depositors, it benefits financial institutions only. No wonder we are holding to our hard earned cash under pillows and mattresses.

I am not a banker, but to hear Directors of financial institutions suggesting that withdrawals should be limited to $500 a week is not prudent. They want to punish us while they continue using our banked cash at will. How do we pay our rentals and other bills which may be in excess of amount suggested?

I would like to salute the Governor of RBZ who suggested $1000/day after considering the needs of people. Isu tiri kutoti ishoma pane yatinoda, but tikutonzwisisawo kuti it is a temporary measure not a permanent solution.

Banks have run out of innovative ideas to make money and are now waiting to rob us in daylight through exorbitant withdrawal charges. How can big corporate like Barclays Bank Zimbabwe give people $100/day and keep transaction charges the same at $4.50 each?

If you add monthly charge to this it means one has to part with nearly $60 a month through charges in order to withdraw $1000. When I want to avoid withdrawing cash and pay through RTGS, I am charged $10 for what? Is this what we call fair business practice or good corporate governance? Where is our sense of morality?

Ceteris paribus, people would like to withdraw all their money to use it wisely and avoid unnecessary charges by corrupt banking system. Zimbabwe is one of the few countries where if you leave your money in the bank, on going back after several months you shamelessly find a balance of zero.

To my learned financial Directors of Banks and CEOs, our money is ours and we should use it the way we want. The withdrawal limits being mentioned by some misguided elements in UK are for ATM machines not weekly limits.

Stop making budgets on our behalf; we have families capable of doing that. The financial crisis was really non-existent or very negligible; it only worsened when the subject of bond notes was introduced. The fact that people lost their life savings in 2008 without anyone caring for that, means we have no option than to take care of ourselves.

I should have a currency that allows me to buy anywhere in the world. Imagine a banker suggesting that we don’t need foreign currency but coupons because he has easy access to our money. We cannot all queue at RBZ to get money that will allow me to travel to neighbouring South Africa to do shopping.

What happened to the limits of cash through our borders? We should be encouraged to go and buy using our visa cards. The idea of limiting withdrawals to corporate is nothing but just mischief. Who is not aware that companies are importing products because of a non-functional manufacturing industry? Any miscalculated policy will result in our economy grounding to a halt.

I however see a downward trend in the purchase of ex-Japanese cars as a result of these restrictions. Yet this was a potential cash cow for ZIMRA which could have been contributing to civil servants’ salaries. Soon we will have spiral effects if we are reluctant to activate our brains into critical thinking.

We can’t start unproductive queues for underweight bread like in 2008 at the expense of working to keep our nation alive. I have no doubt that what we are going through is a temporary setback. If we were working as a team in Zimbabwe, we could be far economically by now. Unfortunately, some people are too corrupt, only care about their pot belly stomachs and immediate families yet we entrusted them with our lives.

Did we know that Zimbabwe is fast becoming an unfavourable tourist destination because of a masterminded financial crisis? How can one come to a country where they can’t use their visa or master card because all ATM machines are disabled for that purpose?

We have to revisit this before it is too late. We need to be very patriotic about our country. I love my motherland; it is a nation at God’s heart if not for a few monsters that need to be kept under check.

The financial sector must remember that they exist because of people. Let’s build trust with our clients and they will keep us in business. Otherwise we are good bankers ourselves.

People can bury the money underground if there are stress signals in the financial system kkkk. If I trusted you with my money, I should have what I want upon demand to do whatever I want. I don’t need to come and tell the banker what I need to do with my money before he can give me more.

Let’s come with fair transactional charges, build trust with each other, give us money that is enough to run our lives without restrictions and encourage us to use plastic money too. Plastic money may become the big game changer provided transactional charges are reasonable and in line with nation building principles. If all of you refuse, I will rebuild this Zimbabwe alone. Aluta continua! God bless my lovely country.

Dr James Madzimure writes in personal capacity. Dr James is a public speaker, preacher, life coach and author. He is the author of Destined for Greatness: Raising Leaders to Transform the Corporate World. He also co-authored a book entitled Unlocking the Entrepreneurial Spirit: God’s Secret to Financial Prosperity.