Cottco managing director Mr Pious Manamike has said a blitz they held to have farmers open bank accounts was resisted for various reasons.This is in light of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) today disbursing $66 million owed to cotton farmers with bank accounts for the crop delivered to Cottco last season, followed by $436,6 million to be paid via mobile banking, but has a headache over $389 million due to farmers with neither bank nor mobile money details.
Some farmers expressed concern over the withdrawal limit and the distance they sometimes have to walk to the nearest financial institution, while others stay in areas with no mobile network for them to use mobile banking platforms, among others.
Mr Manamike said they have ”since approached the RBZ for guarantee for them to borrow money to pay farmers for this season, which started last week.”
Going forward, Governor of the reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Dr John Panonetsa Mangudya said there was need to capacitate Cottco, pay farmers according to grades of their produce instead of a uniform price and that Government should raise its equity in Cottco from 37 percent for it to effectively assist farmers.
He said there were no huge problems at the Grain Marketing Board because Government owns 100 percent while its stake in Cottco was low.
Cabinet has since agreed that Government should raise its stake in Cottco to 51 percent.
The Governor of the RBZ said
“We are not comfortable as a bank to hear that in this country, there are people with no bank accounts. We spoke to six banks last year who were able and willing to open low-cost accounts. One of our jobs is to have financial inclusion so that all producers are included, to bank the unbanked,” he said.
“In terms of accountability and transparency, it is not good. We need to have a spirit of Zimbabwean farmers to have bank accounts for traceability. This is the reason why $1,5 billion was taking long to be settled. How can it be released when we do not know where it is going? My job is to protect the Government coffers at all costs. If we had all the banking details, the money would have been released. One day I will be called by the Public Accounts Committee to explain where the money would have gone.”