Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has directed Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya to ensure that international money transfer agents immediately provide services as a lot of citizens need to access funds sent by their relatives abroad.
Most financial services had closed their banking halls as part of the measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Dr Mangudya immediately issued a statement authorising the transfer agents to start operating with effect from tomorrow.
Money transfer agencies such as World Remit, Western Union, Money Gram and Mukuru had closed shop, leaving many stranded.
Banks and financial service institutions are urging clients to utilise online banking facilities which have turned out to be unreliable.
Chronicle published an article yesterday highlighting the desperation faced by most citizens struggling to access wired funds.
In a statement yesterday, President Mnangagwa said he made the directive in view of the challenges faced by those who depend on diaspora remittances for their survival.
“In view of the ongoing Covid-19-related national lockdown and following concerns from users of money transfer services, I have now directed the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to immediately address constraints around this essential financial service,” said President Mnangagwa.
“The new environment arising from the national lockdown has increased our people’s dependence on remittances, which also have the added advantage of reaching directly the most marginalised members of our nation.
“Because of the necessary national lockdown, livelihoods in the informal sector have been disrupted, thus forcing many households to depend on the support from their loved ones abroad.”
He said it was critical financial service institutions adapt their operations to the new emergency situation.
The President hailed the diaspora for continually supporting their relatives during the difficult period.
“Let me, in the same spirit, pay tribute to our citizens abroad who continue to demonstrate abundant compassion by assisting their families back home through various interventions, including financial remittances,” said the President.
Dr Mangudya, also in a statement, said in line with the President’s directive, money transfer agents should strictly observe rules on social distancing.
“Money Transfer Agencies (MTAs) with branches operating in retail outlets shall, with effect from Wednesday 8 April 2020, operate daily within the timelines prescribed for opening of retail outlets or shops; and MTAs 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 and 1500hrs.
“To allow for operational adjustment, this directive takes effect from Wednesday 8 April, 2020,” said Dr Mangudya.
He said the decision in respect of the extension of the above services is to allow for the receipt of foreign currency remittances which cannot be transacted on any digital or electronic platforms.
“In order to prevent and mitigate the spread of Covid-19, MTAs shall be required to spread remittance payout access points and to strictly observe the social distancing guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the World Health Organisation from time to time,” he said. — @nqotshili