Entrepreneur, Musician and film producer, Kudakwashe Musasiwa, commonly known as Begottensun has threatened that he will initiate a class suit against EcoCash, Zimbabwe’s largest mobile money operator.
Musasiwa says EcoCash encourages its agents to sell cash by paying them commissions for it.
Musasiwa has started a Twitter poll to drum up support for his suite. At the writing of this article, more than 75% of the 182 respondents had confirmed they’d join him in the suit.
Musasiwa said on Twitter Sunday 19 May that this has affected his business called Fresh In A Box, which loses out its profit margin from the cash selling done by agents.
He posted on the Fresh In A Box Facebook page:
Hey everyone. I hope you are having a restful Sunday. So just to give you a heads up on a potentially bruising week ahead. The sites most of Zimbabwe is using now for “rate” information are www.marketwatch.co.zw and https://zimbollar.co.zw. They are both saying the USD is now $5.95 or $7 Rtgs respectively.
However, today I would like you to take note of the RTGS to CASH (read bond note) rate, which is now at $1 Rtgs/Ecocash to $1.28 RTGS Cash. This is important because this is the rate that is seriously affecting us as a business, our customers, our suppliers (normally small scale farmers) and our staff. This rate is the reason why when you try and pay your average Jo/Jane Vendor $10 Ecocash, they ask you to send as $13. You see, 99.9% of Zimbabweans need physical cash to move around in combos, buy day to day food & services. So they charge the extra 28% to make sure they can get the physical cash to survive.
If you are still with me, let me quickly explain the criminality that has fuelled this behaviour and the complicity of our huge monopoly mobile network, Ecocash owned by Econet, that is aiding, abetting & rewarding this practice.
Here is how it happened:
1. You send FIAB $100 Ecocash for tomatoes.
2. FIAB then orders $90 of tomatoes from a small scale farmer
3. The farmer then demands we send them $115.30 for the same $90 tomatoes
4. Farmers send the $115.30 to an Ecocash Agent
5. Ecocash Agent gives farmer $90 in bond coins.
6. Ecocash Agent / Criminal then pockets $25.30
7. Ecocash then pay their Agent commission for the “service” and pocket the charges!
Sound like a fictional horror story right? Sadly its all 100% true!
So do Ecocash know about these criminal agents of theirs?? YES! I have personally spoken to the EcoCash CEO Natalie Jabangwe, at the World Bank HQ, in front of many highly respected people. My wife (our MD) also confronted her, in front of the Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube at a Global Shapers meeting earlier this year. Both time she was nonchalant and blame our intelligence for “not understanding macro-economic principles”. (I kid you not). She is fully aware that in a “cash crisis” 100% of her “Agents” are trading in multiple millions a day in Cash-Outs. She is also aware that she gives them a commission and rewards them for “cashing out”. She is also aware that Agent lines are now rented out by rogue dealers purely for the purpose of “selling cash” to the hard-pressed Zimbos on the street. She is also smiling all the way to the bank with the charges she gets from you/us/everyone. 😓
Now how does this affect you? Well… Even the big Supermarkets that accept your EcoCash, have to price knowing that at the end of their chain, they will need to pay an extra percentage to access cash to get you some of the things you need daily. This sucks!😡
Our economy woes will not go away as long as huge corporate monopolies are enabling and paying commission to criminals. At #FIAB, we have paid out many many thousands to get “cash” every morning, and as the USD to RTGS rate goes up, in this beautiful agricultural land, Fresh Veggies are becoming a luxury! Imagine that… we have the most dams per capita, some of the best farmers and best farmland and yet for 99% of Zimbabweans, a bit of lettuce, banana, and cucumbers is now unaffordable. It’s outrageous! 😱
Anyways, in the spirit of #FIAB, we try and keep you in the loop always, as our customers. We will be offering 15% discount on our fruit and veg boxes to anyone who pays in Bond Coins or Cash, so we can keep as much money away from the cash barons and actually provide you great service and great food. We will also talk to our suppliers for other products to see if we can not make it across the board! We actually love the convenience and ease of the Ecocash platform and use it on our website and apps, but at a loss rate of 28%, it’s starting to really hurt our prices to you and our bottom line. We just will not keep operating with this in place. It’s impossible to account for and the Taxman doesn’t seem to know how to deal with it. 😥
Blessings and Light in these difficult times! Let’s stick together and we will pull through!
EcoCash agents have been charging a premium for cash-outs for at least 3 years now. This practice started when banks started limiting the amount of cash once could withdraw from their account. The premium percentage has ranged from 54% to 30% depending on various factors.
The agents apparently get the cash they sell from other business activities they are involved in such as supermarket, general retailing as well as kombi transport services.
Musasiwa is arguing that EcoCash is the main beneficiary of the practice.
More: Kuda Musasiwa on Twitter