There is this, US dollars and basic commodities being sold at a premium, narrative in Zimbabwe right now. You may not be in the know that premiums are no longer exclusive to those things only. Airtime is now being sold at a premium too.
A good number of street vendors have started to sell airtime at for more than the normal dollar price. We surveyed more than 6 vendors who are selling airtime in the CBD and all had different prices for the airtime. We only did that snap survey (to verify) after several people, located in various areas, in many WhatsApp groups were talking about this. So, it means the practice is now widespread.
In our snap survey, some vendors were selling the one-dollar airtime for $1.20 Bond and some for $1.50 Bond. What’s interesting is that its only Econet’s airtime that vendors are selling at a premium.
Why are they selling (Econet) airtime at a premium?
Since Econet has many subscribers, vendors know that Econet’s airtime is constantly in demand so it’s ideal to sell at a premium than to sell than the relatively less demanded Netone and Telecel airtime
Initially we thought that Econet may have silently increased its airtime wholesale prices but apparently, it didn’t. One disgruntled Econet user asked Econet whether it had increased its wholesale prices to which Econet replied that it never did that.
So it’s obvious that some vendors have decided to sell the airtime at a premium just to profiteer in this economic mayhem. But you wouldn’t blame them, nowadays these vendors have got to pay more in terms of transport cost (kombi fairs went up by 50%) to collect that airtime so that needs to be offset by selling the airtime at a premium. Besides the bus fare increase, many basic commodities are now being sold at a premium so in a way the vendors are justified.
How to avoid paying $1.20 or $1.50 bond
To avoid paying that 20 cents or 50cents Bond premium you may need to purchase directly from Econet by visiting on of their Econet Shop. Or you can just give your friend a dollar and then they buy you airtime from their EcoCash (I don’t see them refusing since cash is in demand in Zim right now).