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Zim suspends Ecocash, mobile money, Stock Exchange in bid to tame black market

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The Zim government has suspended Ecocash and all other Mobile Money Transfer platforms as well as the Stock Exchange in a desperate bid to tame volatile US dollar exchange rates which continue to gallop beyond those pegged by authorities.

The suspension, effective immediately, will see Ecocash, One Money, Telecash and MyCash Mobile money platforms cease transactions.

In a statement Friday, Information Ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana singled out privately owned Econet subsidiary, Ecocash as the platform on which criminals piggy-backed to perform acts of criminality running into millions.

“Ecocash, however, which controls nearly 94% of all mobile money transactions, is the centre pivot of this problem and its resultant impact on Zimbabwe’s economy,” Mangwana said.

He added, “The measures will also include the suspension of all trading on the Zimbabwe stock exchange.”

The sabotage, according to government, is being done by “wolves in sheep skins amongst the population”.

Mangwana said government was well informed about the country’s phone based mobile money systems which were conspiring, allegedly with the help of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, to perform illicit activities that were sabotaging the economy.

“Illegal externalization of foreign currency through transfer mispricing, acting as bank outside the purpose for which they were originally licensed, as non-banking financial institutions, this includes in the particular case of Ecocash, holding well in excess of ZW$8 billion distributed across just over 50 100 agent merchant lines as at 10 June 2020whuch is not under the scrutiny of the Financial Intelligence Unit.

“Fraudulently creating and issuing non-attributable and non-auditable agent cellphone lines accounts.

“Hiding irreconcilable accounts in suspense accounts which hold huge credit balances for unjustifiably long periods.

“Ecocash in particular, is acting as the centre pivot of the galloping black market foreign exchange rate and therefore, fueling the incessant price hikes of goods and services that are bedevilling the economy and causing untold hardship to the people of Zimbabwe.”

Mangwana added, “In this regard, it has been conspiring with big merchants to act as their conduit through which they transfer hundreds of millions of dollars per day to runners on the streets who then buy US dollars on their behalf.

“Rampant, often arrogant, non-compliance with directives issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Financial Intelligence Unit.

“Facilitating illicit trade in notes and coins, at contrived rates of between 30% and 50%, thus causing artificial shortages of the same within the banking system.

“Criminally allowing agent lines that were banned by the RBZ to continue trading illegally and using bulk airtime sales at discounted prices which are cross rated to phantom USD exchange rates which further distort the Zimbabwe market and deliberately mop up US Dollars from the black market, thus forcing up the exchange rate in a manner that has hitherto been difficulty to explain for the monetary authorities.”

The Information Secretary went on to say that the impact is exacerbated by the existence of fake counters on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange which are epitomised by the so-called Old Mutual implied Rate (OMIR).

“This, in turn, results in four or more US:ZWL parallel market exchange rates operating in the market,” he said.

“At any time, therefore there is the official rate, an Ecocash rate, OneMoney rate and the OMIR among others.

“As the RBZ governor aptly observed recently there are multiple contrived phantom exchange rates in use in the Zimbabwe Economy which conspires to defeat fiscal policy.”

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NEWS

Watch: South Africans give notice to foreigners to leave SA before June 16

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With no sign of economic hardships disappearing in Zimbabwe, those who have escaped to South Africa are living in fear as locals have threatened to chase them if they don’t leave on their own accord.

Warnings of an operation to get South Africa rid of foreign nationals on the 16th of June continue to circulate.

Recently, a video surfaced on social media showing the ogarnisers of the operation dubbed, OPERATION DUDULA serving seven day notices to some foreign nationals to vacate the country.

OPERATION DUDULA
WE WILL BE REMOVING ALL ILLEGAL FOREIGNERS BY FORCE!!!
SIDUDULA INSIDE SHOPS AND HAWKERS
IF YOU ARE OPERATING ILLEGALLY YOU BETTER PACK AND GO BEFORE 16 JUNE 2021!!!

– reads the notice.

While the poster specifies that illegal foreigners will be targeted it however does not state that documented ones will be spared.

Such attacks, as occurred before, ended up targeting all immigrants regardless of their status.

Dudula which means “push” brings horrific and sad memories of xenophobic attacks that happened in the country in 2015. Many people were killed, some burnt alive, while some were left homeless as their homes were destroyed.

Just like it happened before, the South African Police Services (SAPS) ignored warnings of imminent attacks on immigrants which then led to the bloodshed.

Similarly, at this point, the SAPS or any government have not said anything about the threats on foreign citizens in their country.

In one of the videos circulating online, the pro Dudula Operation people can be heard blaming the loadshedding on illegal connections supposedly done by foreign nationals.

Local truck drivers have been at loggerheads with their foreign counterparts accusing them of stealing their jobs and accepting low wages and inhuman working conditions.

The situation has left the Zimbabwean and other foreign drivers prone to abuse even when they are legally in the country.

Members of a local drivers organisation, well known for violent attacks on drivers and trucks, have been targeting foreign drivers sjamboking them while recording videos which are then spread online.

They do this to humiliate their victims and instill fear on their colleagues.

No reports of arrest of the perpetrators have been made yet.

For the Zimbabweans and other foreigners in the country, it remains to be seen if they will still call South Africa home after the June 16 2021.

The date concides with South Africa’s youth day when they commemorate the heroics of the youths of 1976 who were massacred by the army after revolting against apartheid.

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CRIME AND COURTS

Fraudster arrested after swipping for $390 000 groceries

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A fraudster has been arrested after he swiped for groceries worth more than $398 000 at OK Supermarket in Hwange using a bank card that had been tampered with.

The man, Brian Pedzisa of Chitungwiza, was arrested on Thursday and is suspected to be among a gang of people who have been using cloned cards and other bank card related tactics to con various retail shops across the country.

Detectives on Thursday pounced on Pedzisa at the supermarket, moments after he was about to get out after swiping for groceries worth $396 384.

Matabeleland North provincial police spokesperson Inspector Glory Banda confirmed the incident and said police were now looking for two other people linked to the sca

“On 10 June 2021 a gang of three fraudsters tried to defraud OK Hwange Supermarket of groceries worth $396 384.

One of the fraudsters successfully used an electronic Visa card to make purchases but before he could make off he was arrested by a team of watchful detectives who were working on a tip-off. Upon being interviewed the suspect revealed that he was working with two other accomplices who are still at large,” said Insp Banda.

He said the gang had used the same strategy to defraud OK Mart Victoria Falls of an undisclosed amount in groceries. He appealed to members of the public to assist with information leading to their arrest.

“The two accomplices are on the run anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of these two criminals can report at the nearest police station,” said Insp Banda.

He called on shop owners to enhance security to avoid such incidents which were on the rise in the country.

“As police we would like to implore shop owners to enhance security at their premises through use of alarm systems and Closed Circuit Television. Retailers should examine electronic cards and do necessary verifications before processing of electronic transactions. For the record some fraudsters misrepresent themselves as humanitarian workers.”

According to sources privy to the incident, the gang would approach the supermarkets seeking a quotation for groceries pretending that the transaction wanted would be effected from a nostro account. Later one of the gang members would return to make purchases using a Visa card whose microchip would have been tampered with. Sunday News

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Accidents

Gutu Inter-Africa bus and Honda Fit accident victims all from same family

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GUTU- Police has announced names of the Gutu accident victims who were involved in a Honda Fit – Bus collision along the Gutu- Chivhu Highway yesterday.

The five were killed when their vehicle collided head-on with an Inter-Africa Bus near Matizha Business Centre in Gutu.

National Police Spokesperson Insp Paul Nyathi announced the names of the deceased family members who were travelling from Harare as Francis Chagweda (33)the driver, Mavis Chagweda (61), Lloyd Chagweda (31), Viola Chagweda (35) and Keresensia Mapaaona (28).

According to a family member, Oscar Chagweda the now deceased were travelling to Chiwara in Gutu for a family function when the tragedy happened.

An eyewitness told I ZIM that the accident occured after the Inter-Africa bus tried to overtake another bus. “It then encroached onto the lane of the oncoming Honda fit which swerved to avoid collision,” said the witness.

The Honda fit reportedly swerved off the road but the bus did the same resulting in the head on collision.

Only one person from the car survived the horific accident and was taken to Matizha clinic before she was transferred to Gutu Rural Hospital for treatment.

During the covid-19 induced Lockdown, government banned private kombis allowing only those registered under ZUPCO to operate resulting in little non-commercial vehicles overloading passengers.

Yesterday, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who doubles as the Health and Child Care Minister announced another Covid -19 regulations which gave a waiver to public transport operators.

However, the transport sector is also now dominated by “mushikashika” vehicles some of which include Toyota Wish and Honda fit vehicles who have the capacity to carry 4 or 5 passengers , however some of these vehicles end up carrying as many as nine passengers.

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