Why “Zimbabwe will never deal with cash shortages” – Supa Mandiwanzira

ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira gave his opening remarks of the Mobile money and digital payments conference that is happening today at Meikles Hotel. Before he started the official speech, he first passed a comment to the discussion that was held before his arrival. The discussion was on “Regulating Bank Charges and Mobile Money Tariffs – Balancing regulations and innovation”.

The minister started his comment with one sentence that caught many people off guard. He said, “Zimbabwe will never deal with cash shortages”. To some, this seemed absurd as the current state of the country seems to point to the fact that we are already dealing with cash shortages. However, there was more meaning behind what he had said so he expanded with the following.

Why will we never deal with cash shortages in Zimbabwe? he asked. Some Zimbabwean farmers produce a lot of tobacco and get paid around $3 per kg. Imagine the number of tobacco farmers in the country and how much they produce. It’s a lot and they all say that they want to get paid in cash. So even if money was printed so much such that there’s no cash shortage, the farmers would still not be able to be paid in cash because the amount is a lot.

This is especially true considering that there are other farmers that produce grains and they are in their bumper harvest now so imagine how much the amount would become. After giving this scenario, the minister of ICT then said “This shows that people have a confidence problem. We don’t have confidence in the products (mobile money platforms) that we are producing”.

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He further explained by showing that the country needs to have trust worthy and reliable mobile payment solutions so that people will have confidence in receiving money in that form instead of getting cash. Addressing the issue of being able to print enough cash for the farmers alone, he said: “The challenge can be solved by technology, education and confidence in a system that works, will work anywhere and doesn’t charge them a lot.”

His first statement might sound like a contradiction if you take it as an absolute that the country will never deal with cash shortages. However, if you look at it in the view of the country having a confidence problem then it makes sense. The minister gave examples of things that could happen in order for Zimbabwe to deal with the confidence problem.

If tomorrow everyone wakes up and they’re notified that all service station payments will attract a discount if we use a digital payment solution then people will run to adopt these technologies. Another example could be that all tobacco farmers that sell their tobacco at $3 per kg will get 20% extra if they get paid by a digital payment.

All these examples point out that regulators, sellers of goods, buyers of goods and mobile money platforms aren’t working together to provide incentives for people to use digital payments. Instead, the opposite is happening, when a person gets into a supermarket and wants to buy goods, they actually get a discount for using cash instead of the digital method.

All in all, the solution is in our hands but we just need to make it more attractive for people to consider using it. So in the end, it does make sense to say that “Zimbabwe will never deal with a cash shortage” because the country should deal with a confidence issue instead of the other one.

Supa Mandiwanzira

Supa Collins Mandiwanzira is a Zimbabwean politician, journalist and entrepreneur. He is the current Minister of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security in the Republic of Zimbabwe. Mandiwanzira is the founder of Zimbabwe's only privately owned radio station, ZiFM Stereo through his company, AB Communications.... Read More About Supa Mandiwanzira

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8 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    True, the minister is onto something, but countries like the US and/or South Africa have more farmers and companies that produce even more goods than us. Yet they are not in a cash shortage crisis like us. The minister is just lucky that his explanation is feasible to an extent here. Otherwise its really a case of rat poison CAN also kill ants!

  2. Leonard Tafadzwa Mundida says:

    As long as there is a trade deficit and we don’t have a currency of our own, there is always going to be less and less cash in the country. Trust in digital money comes from the knowledge that if you do need cash you will be able to access it without hastle. That was the case for a few years.

    1. Comrade says:

      This!!!

      His reasoning and logic is ignorant and child-like when it comes to basic economics.

      That and/or the fact that him and his band of comrades think people are that gullible to take in such empty logic.

      Theirs is a theoretical, hypocritical world where everyone believes what they say and ignorantly accepts it….yet living lives that are in contrast to what they preach.

      We are related to them and we know how he and others in positions of influence and privilege live their lives while the masses suffer! We watch, but we keep quiet.

      We see what he hypocritically says in public and know the truth that he does in private….ever grandstanding and lecturing people and businesses, yet behind the scenes they do the opposite, at obscene levels!

      Their achievements consist of tax abuse and distribution of the country’s wealth within their extended family whilst encouraging the poor man on the street to “shinga”.

      They handle hoards of money, Supa used Government revenue (your collective tax) to buy into Telecel, for his benefit. In other words, the country (and you) gave him money to buy shares.

      In the mean time they continue to live lives that are above all other Zimbabweans, doing as they please amongst themselves.

      Even within ZANUPF, it is just a select few that have benefited. Yet starving idiots still support their plundering of the country.

  3. John says:

    This is true one player who’s inventivising use of mobile platforms is Africom with AfricomPay. It allows you to buy your airtime and Zesa at a discount. This means you get more value out of transacting on the platform

  4. Prince says:

    Faulty ‘logic’. Money should not be printed, but earned. It should transfer from buyer to seller – so no matter how many tobacco or maize farmers there are, as long as someone buys their goods it means the money exists already and it should not be an issue for it to change hands. People should be free to choose form of payment convenient and logical to them. Any alternatives can only receive support by offering more – security, convenience etc to the owner of the money. Lack of confidence is the symptom of the desease, and not the cause.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Very faulty logic and shallow thinking. The problem is not the lack of physical cash. The problem is in the substitution of US dollar balances in the bank with RTGS balances and being told that the two are the same thing when the evidence shows that they are not. If I was a tobacco farmer and I sold tobacco worth 100K, I would never need to withdraw it as cash if I was guaranteed that the day I wanted to import a car from South Africa or Japan or to pay for my DSTV, the genuine balance would be there in the bank. This was indeed the situation from 2009 to about 2013/14

  6. Sagitarr says:

    What lacks is confidence in this government that rigs elections, chases away potential investors and businesses and basically steals from the tax payer…. Way before 1997, cards were used extensively in Zimbabwe and cash was not in short supply and tobacco farmers were probably earning more than at present. The minister’s “logic” lacks depth but will work for the praise singers or the peanut gallery.

  7. G says:

    The cash problem is because government is spending more than it earns.

    They are also printing moey by raiding nostro accounts & we are left with rtgs balances. They are also issuing loads of treasury bills

Comments are closed.