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Masiyiwa, Zimbabwe's messenger of hope

by Staff reporter
08 Dec 2020 at 06:39hrs | Views
RUNAWAY inflation in Zimbabwe has rendered its currency almost worthless.

With US$8 billion in unpaid debt, the country can barely afford services for its citizens, and the deterioration is epitomised by the woeful state of the healthcare system.

Medicine shortages and recurring strikes over pay and working conditions were common even before the coronavirus pandemic.

Econet Wireless founder Strive Masiyiwa, a billionaire who is originally from outside of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, paid monthly stipends from $5 000 to $10 000 (US$62 to US$124) to healthcare workers to stay on the job.

When COVID-19 hit, he offered an additional $500 a day for anyone hospitalised because the virus and $50 000 for permanent disability or death.

His programme ran through July, and since its expiration some workers have gone back on strike.

Masiyiwa, whose telecommunications company operates in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America, has had his run-ins with the Zimbabwean government, which he sees as pursuing policies detrimental to his wireless business.

More than 90% of the country's commerce is conducted via mobile-money transactions because of cash shortages.

The government accuses Econet, which dominates the industry, of fuelling blackmarket currency trading and money laundering, accusations the company denies.

Masiyiwa sees his donations as giving back to his home country, even though he lives in self-imposed exile, mostly in Johannesburg and London.

Source - bloomberg