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Cash crisis hits Victoria Falls

by Staff reporter
24 Apr 2020 at 07:47hrs | Views
VICTORIA Falls residents are failing to access their cash as financial institutions have either remained closed or have no cash at their disposal for withdrawals due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

Financial institutions including banks closed their banking halls in the wake of the national lockdown as part of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. They urged people to utilise online banking facilities, which have turned out to be unreliable especially for those earning in foreign currency.

Even mobile money agents have also closed shop and informed their clients to transact electronically. Concerned depositors have appealed for re-opening of banks at least once a week during the lockdown for them to access their money in foreign currency.

Following concerns by citizens, President Mnangagwa two weeks ago directed Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya to ensure that international money transfer agents open to enable citizens to access funds from their relatives abroad.

The international money transfer agents include World Remit, Western Union, Money Gram and Mukuru. Some of these are offered within banking halls. Although some of the banks have opened to offer such services, they have remained closed for withdrawals leaving those who earn in foreign currency such as tourism workers in Victoria Falls and Hwange stranded.

In Victoria Falls, some tourism players paid their workers this week but access to the funds remains a challenge.

Residents have been frequenting the Victoria Falls Central Business District where they queue in front of banking halls hoping that they might open oblivious of dangers of not observing social distancing.

The newscrew observed that at some banks, workers will be inside the banking halls doing other duties but not open for withdrawals while others will be serving remittance clients.

Western Union service has been reportedly offline countrywide since the start of the week leaving clients stranded while some financial institutions said they were failing to transport cash from their head offices to outlying branches because of the lockdown. Some bank tellers said they were attending to those making deposits as they desperately need cash.

Sometimes players in the tourism industry would pay workers in hard cash as they had direct access to cash from tourism, a privilege affected by Covid-19 which led to cancellation of bookings by tourists and subsequently closure of the whole industry because of lack of business.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe Victoria Falls chapter chair Mr Anald Musonza said none of the employers have cash to pay workers.

"Most companies are paying varying percentages of workers' salaries with the majority giving them 50 percent for this month. There has been an issue with access to funds and we have escalated it with various bank managers to facilitate as most claim the lockdown affected their access to cash. We hope it will be resolved soon so that workers can access their money," said Mr Musonza.

Consumer rights association (CRA) spokesperson Mr Effie Ncube implored Government to ensure banks are opened.

Source - chronicle