Discordant signals over currency hurts the economy


WEEKEND events where President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration gave conflicting signals on use of mobile money platforms further confirmed pessimists’ observation that the centre can no longer hold.

NewsDay Comment

Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana on Friday issued a statement suspending mobile money transactions and trading on the stock exchange in order to facilitate investigations into illicit activities said to be sabotaging the economy.

The drastic measures did not only leave the general public in a state of panic, but also in the dark as to the fate of their funds deposited in the mobile money accounts.

The move was a sad reminder of yesteryear when several banks closed shop, leaving thousands of depositors counting their losses.

That such a pronouncement with far-reaching consequences was made by Information secretary and not by the Finance minister nor Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, also raises eyebrows.

As anticipated, all the mobile money platforms immediately issued statements urging clients to disregard Mangwana’s statement and continue transacting using the platforms until further notice from the official fiscal and monetary authorities.

The central bank later added a new twist to the drama with a statement announcing a partial suspension on mobile money agents’ accounts while the rest of the public was left to transact freely. This obviously was a damage control measure.

The clumsy manner in which this has been handled points to chaos within government where the right hand seems not to know what the left hand is doing.

This does not only dampen investor confidence, but further exposes the government for what it is. How could a sane investor put his/her money in a country whose government cannot even put together a coherent and co-ordinated message on such a vital issue as mode of transaction?

Such guerrilla tactics where major policy shifts are made overnight should have no place in any economy, moreso in an unstable economy such as ours which is characterised by runaway inflation of nearly 800% and worsening levels of poverty.

It is this kind of tomfoolery that has contributed to the free-fall of the Zimbabwe dollar which was hastily brought back despite wise counsel from those in the know.

As long as this ghost of policy inconsistency is allowed free passage into the corridors of State power, the ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ mantra will continue to ring hollow.