Rural Folks Lose Confidence In The Banking Sector

Villagers in Makoni District say the little faith they still had for the banking system has since varnished as the country’s cash crisis continues to bite amid escalating bank rates both In the formal and informal market.

Early in the year, the government introduced measures to protect the Zimbabwe dollar which included high-interest rates but all that seems to have worsened the situation

So dire is the situation that small scale business enterprises by rural folks have also started feeling the pinch and no longer rely on banks for transactions.

Lazarus Changunda of Ward 35 in Makoni District, who is a committee member of Kamusosa Clinic Tillage services says his organization and in his personal capacity no longer deposit money in banks for they fear that they may fail to withdraw it or when they do, it will be at a higher interest rate.

“We used to bank our money and some we put in our Ecocash but we realized that it’s depreciating while it’s in there and we run loses.

“So we are now investing in livestock and engaging in poultry projects.  The Only money we keep is that for emergency situations otherwise, it’s a waste of time to keep money in banks,” he said.

Since the reintroduction of the Zimbabwean dollar in February this year, the unit has depreciated by more than 600 percent.

In February, the value of the ZWL$ stood at 2.5 against the USD, and now trades at 17.5 against the greenback.

Earlier in the week, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Deputy Governor  Khuphukile Mlambo  was arrayed before the parliamentary committee on public finance to answer to reports that Ecocash agents were taking advantage of the loopholes in the monetary policy system to charge exorbitant cash-out rates to desperate members of the public that are failing to get cash through normal banking channels.

“We are not the parallel market and we only interact with the public through commercial banks,” Mlambo said

“We do not sell money to the public; we sell it to commercial banks. We supervise them and right now, we do not have evidence that commercial banks are operating in the parallel market. If there is evidence, then tell us so that we act,” she added.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) said it has instituted a major probe into the operations of the country’s Ecocash agents who are being accused of fleecing citizens of their money and worsened an already dilapidated system.

In Makoni, Agatha Maruma said women are being sidelined from accessing loans from the Women’s Bank as the requirements are uneven compared to urban dwellers.

“If an opportunity is availed for women to get loans from the bank, us rural women are always neglected. Those from urban areas are getting easy access to loans because they have the collateral needed for one to get the money.

“The process for us in the rural areas is cumbersome, we are told several times to bring certain documents which we can never get until we give up, that must be addressed,” he said.

The government launched the Women’s Bank with the aim of allowing women, especially those who run small businesses to access loans and enable them to run their operations.

However, with the current banking trends, that remains a pipeline dream as women, especially those in marginalized communities, continue to be denied access to the loans on different technicalities.

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