Econet Wireless (Pvt) Limited is being accused by the state for money laundering from 2 January 2020 to 30 June 2020. The Zimbabwean economy is gradually collapsing therefore, the accusation is hurled to the Econet Wireless because the whole country is now depending on mobile money transfers, Ecocash due to shortage of cash in the country.
On 17 July 2020, the state ordered the Detective Inspector and Officer In Charge Mkhululi Nyoni applied for a warrant of search to Econet Wireless thereby requesting for the following information from the company for the period 2 January- 30 June 2020: a list of all subscribers/customers both registered and unregistered with full subscribers details, a summary of transient e-money/ airtime credit service posted on the platform through airtime loans, and all financial statements showing the entire inflow and outflow monetary transactions.
The data collected by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe(POTRAZ) from the service providers reveals that the total number of active mobile money subscriptions grew by 4.6 % in the first quarter of 2020 to reach 7,673,201 from 7,334,639 recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019. Meanwhile, the adoption of mobile money has been growing steadily since 2018 and the numbers of active subscribers also increased in 2019 leading to the expandable growth in 2020. Customers and retailers are relying more on mobile money because of money shortage in the country.
POTRAZ also collected data for mobile money transactions which divulge that there was an overall decline in the value of cash-in and cash-out transactions during the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020. Then again, there was considerable growth in the value of cross-network as well as airtime, bill and merchant payments. The growth in the value of the bill and merchant payments is ascribed to the increase in the scope of services that can be paid through mobile money as well as the general increase in the prices of goods and services.
Due to the cash shortage, customers are loitering around supermarkets every day, not for essential business, rather they are begging for money in exchange, they use money in their Ecocash wallets or they will buy their groceries using their bank cards to get cash. People usually do transactions from bank to mobile money so they can find cash easily to those who have access to it. People are being mistreated in banks for the sake of cash, some people used to sleep on bank doorstep to get only bus fare.
If Econet Wireless (Pvt) Limited has to take serious note on the warrant of search and provide the requested information within 7 days, probably the people will be dismayed by the financial statements that will be exposing large amounts of money being transferred from banks to the street runners. Hopefully, investigators and Anti-corruption team will be ready for duty.