Individuals/Families who rely on remittances where caught between a rock and a hard place when it was announced that money transfer agents would not be exempt from lockdown.
Whilst this decision was made to safeguard the health of the general public, it meant that a significant number of Zimbabweans who rely on remittances were cut off from their only source of funds at a time they need to stock up on food and other vital resources.
RBZ has decided to loosen its grip on money transfer agents like Western Union and other remittance services, allowing them to reopen from the 8th of April.
- Money Transfer Agents (MTAs) branches operating in retail outlets shall, with effect from Wednesday the 8th of April 2020, operate daily within the timelines prescribed for opening of retail outlets or shops; and
- Money Transfer Agents owned by banks and those with own banking halls and branches outside banks and retail outlets or shops, shall open for business three times a week, that is on Tuesday to Thursday between 0900 hours to 1500 hours with effect from 8 April
Whilst the RBZ has urged MTAs to observe social distancing guidelines and to spread remittance access points in order to try combat spread of Coronavirus, this directive is indicative of one thing. A number of African governments simply cannot enforce a full lockdown because of the social context of Africa.
With those accessing remittances now allowed to go and access their money because they need it to survive, next informal workers who live from hand to mouth can also argue (rightfully so) that they’ll need to work on some days in order to make the bear minimum they need to survive and the chain goes on and on.
If anything, this should be a wake-up call to African governments to ensure that in future their countries can stand on their own to avoid endangering citizens lives because of a failure to provide an economy that can.
Update: Here’s a list of the Money Transfer Agents according to RBZ;
Tier 1 MTAs – These process both inward and outward remittances
- Econet Wireless
- Express Financial Services
- Send Money Home
- Steward Bank
- FMC Finance
- Sahara Forex Bureau
Tier 2 MTAs – these only process inward remittances
- Solten Financial Services
- Fedex Financial Services
- CBZ Bank
- Simukai Financial Services
- Champion Forex Services
- NMB Bank
- OK Zimbabwe/ OK MoneyWave
- Kaah Express Financial Services
- FBC Bank Limited
- Stanbic Bank ZW Limited
- Meikles Financial Services
- Quest Financial Services
- ZB Bank Limited
- Direct Connect Financial Services
- ZymPay Zimbabwe
- Kumusha Fintech