THE country’s biggest mobile money transfer services provider, EcoCash has taken the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to court, challenging a directive to suspend and freeze accounts of its 6 000 agents suspected of fuelling parallel market foreign currency trading.
By Garikai Tunhira
In its directive, the central bank claimed the cited agents were moving large volumes of money in excess of $100 000 per month, hence the move to investigate them.
In an urgent chamber application at the High Court through its lawyers Mtetwa and Nyambirai Legal Practitioners, EcoCash yesterday said both itself and its agents were not consulted when the decision to suspend and freeze the accounts was made.
“The respondent (RBZ) further placed a condition that those affected agents who wanted to continue with agent business must reapply and the application will be subject to confirmation by the respondent. The applicant (EcoCash) and its agents were not heard before the decision to suspend and freeze the aforementioned accounts was made,” EcoCash stated.
“The provisions of section 10 of the Act that the respondent placed reliance on do not give the respondent powers to suspend the agents from participating in the EcoCash system. No crime has been alleged against the agents and when considered together with all the relevant facts, the directive is illegal and irrational.”
EcoCash further argued that the directive “severely prejudices” the majority of the Zimbabwean population, adding that its application was to “temporarily arrest the prejudice by suspending the operations of the directive of May 4, 2020 pending a determination of its legality on the return date”.
This is not the first time that the central bank has clashed with EcoCash over large volumes of mobile money transactions.
Last October, RBZ accused “some economic agents” of illegally exploiting the facility by charging exorbitant commissions.
EcoCash, which at the time had 10,5 million people using the money transfer platform, challenged the directive in court, saying the ban had affected its millions of innocent customers “instead of identifying the abusers and dealing with them on a case-by-case basis”.