Temporary ban of Ecocash Cash In and Out transactions disrupts women's trade

By Joleen Marara

The Zimbabwean Government’s temporary banning of cash in and cash out transactions by Ecocash merchants last week, incapacitated a lot of women using this means of payment to conduct business. 

The cash in and out system is an Econet mobile money application that allows Ecocash users to deposit and withdraw money from the company’s agents around the City. It was temporarily banned last week as a means of stabilising the prices of goods in the market.

Thembinkosi Ndlovu a single mother told Amakhosikazi media that through the profits she got from selling cash to individuals at alternating daily charges she has been fending for her family and hence the banning of the `Ecocash facility had rendered her jobless. 

“We thought this could help us survive with our families because even if we go and sell on the streets, our things will be taken away by the City council, so this banning has really affected me because I don’t even know where to start,” said Thembinkosi Ndlovu.

A Non-Governmental Organisation expert who requested anonymity said: “One thing for sure is that the economy is owned by women. For example chicken farming, because it’s informal, and there is no money, everyone is using ecocash to pay, so banning Ecocash transactions means they (Chicken farmers) can’t accept money.” She added: “If you have to take ecocash there is a limit and you are tied.” 

Zimbabwean women have been cross-border trading to seek a living since before the country’s biggest economic crises of the new millennium. However, the situation has become tougher because of the foreign currency exchange rates, cash shortages and now the interruptions in the Ecocash services transactions. 

One of the agents said they do not have a starting point hence they have a fear of paying a certain percentage in order to get their money back, though it’s not certain. 

An anonymous source added: “I do not know where to start because I can’t access my money and this might result in a loss because there are possibilities that if I want to get my money back i have to pay 10% which is such an inconvenience because its my money that I have to pay for in order to get it back”.

“This issue has really affected us especially single mothers because the profits i’ve been getting, I channeled them towards school fees but now all the money is lost ” added Ndlovu.

While the decision has since been reversed, the many erratic policy shifts on cash transactions, exchange rates, foreign currency accounts and possession are all keeping the markets in jitters.

“We are really looking forward to a solution of this issue because banning cannot change isimo selizwe esimi ngakhona (the state of the country),” added Sifiso Zulu.