The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in its hasty move to curb a surge in foreign currency rates made a rather uninformed move by cutting down limits on transactions between agents and subscribers to a mere RTGS$100.
Today RTGS$100 is equivalent to a mere $4usd on the parallel market, and some banks are only issuing a maximum of RTGS$300 per week, which is a paltry $12 USD which can not cater for basic family needs. This move has seen most agents making numerous transactions of $100 denominations as people cash out.
Thousands of Zimbabweans are still cashing out or receiving payments amounting to thousands from agents on those $100 batches, which is more taxing to the ordinary citizens as they are now under much more charges than before, yet still desperate to get the cashouts or direct payments.
The cash crisis was not created by Ecocash or mobile money agents, and trying to cut down the access limits is not part of the solution but introducing a new problem on already burdened consumers who are still struggling to make ends meet.
Yes, there are serious cases of foreign currency dealers manipulating the system but must the whole nation suffer because of the few who are abusing the system.
If the government is serious about the cash crisis and serving its people then banks must work on their mandate of making sure that cash is accessed by everyone who needs it on-demand, that is what normal countries do.
It’s known that Zimbabwe uses a three-tier pricing system, and buying goods with cash is way too cheaper than using swipe or EcoCash, hence the demand on cash.
Many people today are paying a premium for cash since most goods are 50% cheaper on cash prices than plastic or mobile money methods.
The real elephant in the room is not the method of payment but the value of the bond notes and RTGS against regional traders, when most traders sell their goods, they need a currency that makes it possible to restock, and only cash is the best option, foreign currency is only sold through the black market for most traders.
The rest of forex traders in Zimbabwe, especially the licensed dealers are not selling foreign currency to the public, but merely buying which makes it very difficult for traders to exchange their currency.
When cash was available in the past we never had the three-tier systems because it’s very easy for most businesses to operate using cash.
The move does not discourage anything but makes life difficult for ordinary citizens who must pay out more batches in $100 for whatever cash out, they need.