HARARE – The ruling Zanu PF government must do more to relieve long-suffering Zimbabweans from a cash crisis that has forced many to spend hours on end in bank queues, Information Communication Technology (ICT) minister Supa Mandiwanzira said.
The Nyanga South Zanu PF MP said the situation is a “crisis” and “it pains me because those people don’t need to be there (cash queues)”.
“It says to me, as a government minister and a Zanu PF ruling party member, we ought to do more to make sure that the lives of these people get better,” Mandiwanzira told delegates at a function in Harare on Wednesday.
“Just to give you sight of the crisis that we have,…everybody is desperate for cash, each time I walk to my office, you know my office is at a building where on the ground floor there is a bank, I see a lot of Zimbabweans sitting there, patiently waiting for an opportunity to get into the bank to get cash,” he said.
This comes as the biting cash crisis has persisted, despite introduction of the bond notes — a currency surrogate to the United States dollar in November last year.
Instead, greenbacks have almost disappeared from circulation, with banks drastically cutting cash withdrawals.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has said it is injecting $100 million cash into the economy on a weekly basis, but the country has remained in the throes of a bank note shortage caused by a widening deficit as the local manufacturing industry weakens and low foreign direct investment inflows.
Last week, RBZ governor John Mangundya said he was working on a raft of measures to promote the enhanced use of plastic and electronic money which now accounts for 70 percent of transactions.
Mandiwanzira said it was the duty of his ministry to ensure that people do not necessarily need to use cash when carrying out retail transactions.
“If you go to other countries, cash is becoming obsolete. You do not need to touch money, people use their phones to transact, people use their computers to transact, even to buy a newspaper on a street corner, people have their mobile phones, and they will just use the mobile phone to do a purchase,” he said
“So, the responsibility is not just to me as a government minister and as a member of the ruling party, it is also to me as a minister of ICT, because that is where the solution is.
“The desperation for cash needs an answer, the answer lies in the telecommunications sector, the mobile phone sector offering platforms that allow those people to go and pay kuchigayo (at the grinding mill), not with cash, to go and pay pa (at the) tollgate not with cash, to go and pay maids not with cash, to go and buy vegetables, not with cash, but using their phones,” Mandiwanzira said.