Fuel dealers in Harare are demanding cash at fuel stations, snubbing plastic money and mobile payment platforms like Ecocash due to fear of losing savings to the impending bond notes.Big players like Zuva, Puma among others have rejected calls by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor John Mangudya to promote use of plastic money as the Zimbabwean economy is facing one of its worst cash crisis.
Most companies’ nostro accounts are dwindling due to government regulations, externalisaton of funds, hence most transactions take long to process.
In his mid term Monetary Policy review, Mangudya urged Zimbabweans to embrace the use of plastic money as banks are limiting withdrawals to $30, with some banks at $20.
Motorists have been left stranded on the streets after failing to access fuel as dealers continue to demand cash.
Fuel dealers are demanding cash due to depleting nostro reserves that have resulted in delays in payments to suppliers.
“We accept cash only to cushion ourselves because we cannot withdraw the money in our accounts yet our suppliers demand cash at point of sale.
“We are in a catch 22 situation, government should have us access the money because fuel is an important part of the economy,” a Zuva manager said
Demanding cash upfront would also aid in facilitating the importation of fuel where suppliers deal on a cash basis, whilst fuel dealers are blaming RBZ of delaying payments for foreign purchases.
Fuel dealers’ foreign accounts are dwindling due to the cash crisis; hence the urgent need for cash to replenish their fuel supplies.
Fuel dealers in Bulawayo are also reportedly rationing sales of plastic money users in favour of clients with cash to bolster their cash reserves.
A survey conducted by Nehanda Radio revealed that some service stations only allow for U$20 worth of fuel purchase through the point of sale platform, whilst some have set US$80 as the daily limit.
Some fuel stations have introduced discounts for cash fuel buyers, whilst charging 10 percent to those buying using the debit cards.
The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) urged fuel dealers to accept plastic money and appreciate that there is a liquidity crunch.
“We understand the predicament that the fuel dealers are facing of having to serve the public, but also facing problems of cash. We are working at assisting our dealers to find supplies at good rates where cash is not demanded,” ZERA boss Gloria Magombo said.
Recent utterances by Mangudya have caused uncertainty in the fuel industry, as dealers fear that they will be unable to access their monies once the bond notes are released onto the market.
Bond notes are expected in a fortnight, as the nation remains uncertain as to the safety of their money, hence mopping out all accounts using dubious means of buying cash at 10 percent interest from bank.
Fuel dealers are cushioning themselves from worsening liquidity challenge, a phenomena that began after Mangudya announced the issuance of the surrogate currency.