Dr Mangudya to blame for Zim cash crisis!

Dr Mangudya to blame for Zim cash crisis!
Published: 28 August 2017
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya recently made d three disheartening statements concerning the current liquidity crisis.

He said civil servants should not bother commercial banks by demanding cash because the government does not deposit their salaries in cash but uses the real time gross settlement system (RTGS) and that everyone should embrace plastic money and if not interested, then join bank queue. He said they will not adopt the rand.

Governor, everyone is aware that the country is facing a production crisis since the late 1990s and this forced our economy to largely rely on imports, which is resulting in trade deficit and cash crisis.

The solutions required to kick start the economy are long term but in the short-run we can implement some measures to try and minimise some of the challenges coming along with low production.

On that score, that is where you are failing. Your policies have worsened the situation instead of correcting.

Zimbabwe adopted the United States dollar as its main trading currency in February 2009 and this brought stability in the financial sector and a sense of reward to the businesses and workers until the first quarter of 2016 when the governor disclosed his intentions to introduce bond notes.

Economic agents viewed this move as a backdoor way of bringing back the Zimbabwean dollar that eroded people's gains and savings in the 2008 era due to inflation.

That mere announcement was far enough to cause a great damage in the financial sector that still exists up to date. The remaining US dollar was hoarded and kept under pillows as speculation was fuelled, inviting back money changers onto the streets.

When you revealed your intentions to introduce bond notes and to promote plastic money usage, I thought maybe you were not going to forget that the economy is still relying on imports and you would allow all the local transactions to be carried out in bond notes or plastic money but still keep enough foreign currency (especially rand and US) in commercial banks to give companies and those licenced to import whenever they want to purchase goods or raw materials outside.

This was going to prevent speculation in the parallel markets; shortages of goods and necessary raw materials; curb three tier pricing systems and stop prices from rising.

Governor, I once spoke with you over the telephone and you said $200 million bond notes swallow the US$6 billion economy but where are the US dollars now?

Since the time of the dollarisation, Chinese firms w ere invited into our country, mined some diamonds, opened up retail shops bringing and selling poor quality products from their country, packed the US dollars in their suitcases, boarded aeroplanes and disappeared with them to their country. No measures were put in place to stop them.

Governor, even today, you are saying everyone should embrace plastic money, but what measures have you put in place against all those who are refusing to take plastic money?

All those Indian shops, Chinese shops that are not accepting plastic money, do they belong here or else? They are still taking the little remaining US dollar to their countries, if they get bond notes from their sales, then they hunt for the US in the parallel market and still externalise it.

Nothing has been said concerning this, it's the ordinary Zimbabweans who are to blame for their overzealous appetite for cash.

Governor, what measures have you put in place to curb the three tier pricing systems adopted by many retailers?

The cash prices are nearly 34% lower than those of plastic money, if one is using US dollar, then one would enjoy 44% lower prices than the one using plastic money.

Are you not aware of all this or there are people you are protecting with this system who are benefiting at the expense of the ordinary Zimbabweans?

Governor, have you observed that prices are shooting up? Would you gladly sit and lie to the nation that it's because of economic recovery when it is quite evident that it's a liquidity crisis causing this.

Our country is heavily relying on imports, so even if the local shops are to take plastic money or bond notes but they still have to import commodities from outside and they need foreign currency, mainly the rand, which is found in the informal sector at a price.

Retailers have captured this cost in their prices and passed on that burden to the consumers, which is always the case, it's the ordinary consumer who suffers. What measures have you put in place to curb this? None!

The introduction of bond notes has caused prices to increase. Zimbabwe is producing nearly nothing as we are importing even baby diapers.

This means that the importers would still need the foreign currency to purchase goods outside the country and the money changers are rating separately bond notes and US dollar.
One would purchase R100 at $8.30 with bond notes then $8.00 or less with US dollar.

Retailers have solved this by increasing prices so as to capture this extra cost of purchasing foreign currency.

I have observed a product priced at $7.50 in OK and TM supermarkets where they accept swipe but costing $4-00 in tuck-shops where they take cash only.

How would you explain this variance Governor? This would mean a higher cost of living to the consumers.

To worsen everything, it was made very clear by President Robert Mugabe that the economy is maintaining a wage freeze up to 2018. Governor, what does that mean?

The already meagre incomes of the poor Zimbabweans are being further eroded, which means the poor are being further impoverished.

It is quite clear Governor that this system you have created exacerbates income disparities.

Those who are rich and with businesses are benefiting as they are able to get their hands on the little cash that is circulating and sell it for plastic money in the parallel market at rates higher than 15%.

Those people are powerful and are not complaining or criticising you because the system is favouring them.

The poor are suffering and do not have that courage to say it out and if they do complain, they are not heard or ignored because they are not known. Governor, the blood of the dying economy is in your hands.

Last week you rejected calls to adopt the rand as the country's temporary trading currency and the reasons that you cited or always cite are baseless.

All along the country has been using the US dollar, which you were importing at a higher price from the US but the country survived for so many years like that.

Would you tell us whether this US dollar was coming on foot or what?

The US dollar faced massive externalisation and it was your fault because you could have long back put powerful measures to prevent that money flight especially to China.

Governor, can you convince me that the rand would face the same massive externalisation that faced the US dollar here in Zimbabwe.

Chinese and Nigerians would not take the rand to their countries like what they did with the US, to do what with it?

Obviously South Africa is our biggest trading partner, adopting the rand would cure the liquidity crisis; improve trade with South Africa; bring sanity in the financial sector and a sense of reward to the workers as the rand is more stable and of better value; curb the three tier pricing models; reduce prices and above all send the illicit money changers to wherever they came from.

It would allow Zimbabwe's exports to be more competitive as the rand is not a hard currency like the US dollar.

It would be much easier to import the rand unlike what the country has been doing since 2009, importing the US dollar from America.
Governor, you are keeping the $4.9 billion foreign currency realised from exports for what if it could not benefit the economy to solve this looming cash crisis.

What do you want to use it? Companies are complaining that they are failing to import necessary materials, equipment e.tc as they are failing to get foreign currency from the RBZ.

Can you not see that this will negatively affect production and growth?

Governor, you need to understand that our country is largely dominated by the informal sector, where ordinary Zimbabweans get most of their day to day requirements.

Most of the sellers in this sector of the economy are financially excluded or shun plastic money because of charges and because it is inconvenient, they want cash which the consumers do not have and are forced to find.

Really Governor, would you imagine a person in Chitungwiza visiting OK supermarket to purchase tomatoes, vegetables, onions, bread e.t.c?

I know before this liquidity crisis, we would visit the market place to buy vegetables for $0. 30; tomatoes $0.40 and onions $0.30 and beef for $1 from a local butchery and a family of nine would have supper.

That is the reality and that is what the poor can afford and that is how they survive. As you can see, these transactions are not possible to carry out with Ecocash or credit cards and then you would publicly lash out at the civil servants for allegedly having a huge appetite for cash.

Governor, I took that as an insult to the poor and suffering Zimbabweans.

Surely when the nation is pinning its hopes on you to correct the situation or come up with measures to correct the liquidity crisis that is when you would utter such disheartening worlds?

Are you working to improve the welfare of the people or worsen it, which side are you on?

Governor, as I have alluded earlier, people need to make numerous small transactions everyday which demand cash.

Many people do not have private vehicles and they need cash every day to pay for transport to and from their work places, be it $0.50 to town and another $0.50 from, still its cash needed.

You might be rich Governor and you can use your credit card to purchase fuel, full tank for your car but what with those who rely on public transport?

You may argue that they need to embrace plastic money but check this, before the cash crisis one would withdraw his or her salary once, be it $500 and get charged $2.50 for withdrawal and that's it for the whole month.

Using cash to wouldn't come with other associated charges. This is now different with plastic money, if you are to use Ecocash, you are charged on each and every minor and all the numerous transactions that you make, which means your cost of living would have increased than in the cash era of which your salary will be not rising together with the cost of living.

If then people queue to hunt for cash which is more convenient and cheaper to use, would you label them as having a huge appetite for cash?

Is that's not mocking people, Governor? Besides, these people are earning peanuts and they need small cash balances to finance their numerous day to day transactions.

It's not like they want to take the money to import used Japanese vehicles to come and sell here like what most top and powerful government officials are doing.

It is those who are rich who have their children attending foreign schools, who have a huge appetite for foreign holidays, have businesses outside, have car sales for Japanese vehicles e.tc who are causing this money flight, yet it's the poor who suffer at the day end.

Governor, you are to blame for all this; you caused the cash crisis, fuelled it and you should correct it.

Blessing Machiva is an economist and he writes in his own personal capacity. Criticisms and comments can be forwarded to machiva.blessing@gmail.com or WhatsApp number +263 774 601 040 or call 0773 836
- the standard
Tags: Mangudya,


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