Cotton farmers are reportedly moaning over the protracted suspension of mobile money Merchant transactions.
The farmers are asking the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to lift the ban so that ginneries can pay them their earnings through mobile money wallets. The central bank banned most of mobile money transactions last week to pave way for investigations into illicit foreign currency deals.
Farmers are supposed to receive 38% of their earnings as cash and 62% should be transferred electronically in their mobile money wallets or bank accounts. But the thing is, most farmers don’t have have bank accounts so they receive earnings in wallets.
Consequently, many cotton farmers haven’t yet received their earnings which is the reason why they want the ban on Merchant transactions to be lifted.
The timing is bad especially for thousands of cotton farmers who have worked so hard but can’t get their money.
While there is no doubt that mobile payments might have been used to fuel black market foreign exchange transactions, we appeal to authorities that this situation be dealt with case by case than just use a blanket approach.
Stewart Mubonderi, Chairman of Zimbabwe Cotton Producers and Marketers Association.
I asked cotton merchants to have all names of their farmers, take them to banks, open accounts and fund those accounts. Farmers will then move money from their bank accounts to their mobile wallets and transact.
RBZ Governor John Mangudya
If cotton farmers don’t open bank accounts then they would have to wait till the ongoing investigations on mobile money platforms are concluded to receive their money in mobile wallets. It remains a mystery as to when when the investigations will be concluded as the Governor didn’t give a date.
Cotton farmers and the rest
Cotton farmers are not the only group of citizens who have been inconvenienced by the ban but many other people have. For instance, informal businesses have started to reject payments in EcoCash because the ban is making it hard for them to withdraw their earnings.
Despite the seemingly negative side effects of the suspension of mobile money transactions, the black market exchange rate has relatively stabilized since the suspension came into effect.For the RBZ, the attainment of a stable exchange rate is something to drink champagne for as it was their target.