The Zimbabwe government has with immediate effect suspended all mobile money transfer services in the country.
In a statement released by Nick Mangwana, Secretary for Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting services, the government cites malpractices, criminality and economic sabotage perpetuated by the “wolves in sheep skins amongst our population” as the reason behind the suspension and that the government is facilitating intrusive investigations leading to the arrest and prosecution of offenders.
The measures which also include the suspension of all trading on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, are to remain in place until the mobile money platforms have been reformed to their original purpose, the statement said.
The government says it is in possession of impeccable intelligence which constitutes a prima facie case whereby the phone-based mobile money systems of Zimbabwe are conspiring, with the help of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, either deliberately or inadvertently, in illicit activities that are sabotaging the economy.
The statement further states that prudent measures are being put in place to mitigate and prevent any collateral damage that these interventions may cause to the innocent transacting public who were using these platforms.
Some of the illegal activities include the illegal externalization of foreign currency through transfer mispricing and acting as banks outside the purpose for which they were originally licensed, as non-banking financial institutions.
Ecocash in particular has been accused of acting as the centre pivot of the galloping black market foreign exchange rate and conspiring with big merchants to act as their conduit through which they transfer hundreds of millions of dollars per day to runners on the street who then buy US Dollars on their behalf.
These are some of the activities that the government says are fuelling the incessant price hikes of goods and services that are bedevilling the economy and causing untold hardship to the people of Zimbabwe.
The affected mobile money platforms are OneMoney, Telecash, MyCash and Ecocash which controls nearly 94% of all mobile money transactions in the country.