Riots over cash

HARARE - Civil servants ran amok at Allied Bank yesterday, beating up a branch manager and destroying glass doors as they demanded their money.

The chaos began shortly after 9am at Allied Bank branch along Third Street, Harare, when depositors were told that they could not get their money.

Witnesses said a group of civil servants, some in military attire who had been queuing to withdraw their salaries attacked the bank staff together with the manager after failing to get their money. They were joined by other depositors in the assault.

Depositors gather outside a Metropolitan Bank branch in the Harare CBD.

“When people learnt that they could not get their money they started assaulting the branch manager and bank staff,” Clifford Dube one of the depositors, said. “The whole fracas was started by soldiers who said they have been receiving $50 per day since they got paid last week and they could no longer accept that.”

A security guard, the witnesses allege, had to use pepper spray to stop the assault on the bank officials who had barricaded doors to control the crowd, resulting in some breaking the glass doors.

When the Daily News crew arrived at the bank around 10am, the glass doors were shattered, with debris all over the pavement.

Riot police closely monitored proceedings  at the bank as disgruntled depositors stood outside.

One of the bank officials, who declined to divulge his name, told depositors to go to the bank’s Robert Mugabe branch, saying they would  be able to access their cash there.

But when the Daily News crew visited this branch, scores of depositors were queuing inside the banking hall.

“I have not been able to access my last month’s salary,” said Chiyedza Chidangwara, a teacher.

“Everytime l come here I am told that I can get only get $50 or $100. I can’t believe this is happening? The banks should simply give us our money and stop this nonsense.”

Another teacher, William Mbizvo, said: “What happened to the branch manager and his staff is okay. This bank has been taking us for granted. We are struggling to get our monies which we worked for. This cannot continue to happen. We are going for the festive season and yet we cannot access our money.”

Stephen Gwasira, the bank’s chief executive officer, apologised for the mayhem at the bank.

“Allied Bank sincerely apologises to its valued customers about the unfortunate disturbance at one of its Harare branches, which resulted in a scuffle between the bank’s security and some customers,” Gwasira said.

“The incident occurred soon after opening as the tellers were preparing to start the day.

“Allied Bank sincerely apologised for the inconvenience emanating from the prevailing cash shortages, and assures its valued customers that the bank is making aggressive efforts to address the liquidity constraints. We are confident that these efforts will yield positive results.”

Allied Bank, previously Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG), rebranded  last year after Trebo and Khays, an investment vehicle owned by Transport minister, Obert Mpofu pumped $23 million into the bank.

The bank has been struggling to pay depositors.

Just last week, scores of depositors besieged the bank’s branch along Third Street, and vowed to stay put until they got their money.

In another chaotic incident yesterday, there was pandemonium at Metropolitan Bank as depositors demanded their cash.

When the Daily News arrived at the bank’s Zimre Centre branch along Nkwame Nkrumah, commotion ensued after depositors failed to access cash, with security guards manning the bank struggling to contain them.

One depositor who identified himself as Clive said the bank had not opened since morning and depositors were getting agitated.

Riot police arrived to quell the chaos and the branch manager was seen negotiating with the depositors.
A Metropolitan Bank official said for the past week, they have been managing to disburse some cash to depositors.

“It’s not easy because of the liquidity crisis but our clients are managing to make withdrawals although demand for cash is very high. But we are managing.”

Efforts to get comment from Bankers Association of Zimbabwe boss Sijabuliso Biyam and the association’s president George Guvamatanga were unsuccessful as their mobile phones went unanswered.

Alson Mfiri, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe spokesperson, had also notresponded to questions sent to him by the time of going to press.

Comments (14)

Not even Nikuv can assist them here. Vamboti vadii.

Muchadura - 17 December 2013

My mother withdrew $10 000.00 at POSB without any hassle. She was told by the teller to just wait for a few minutes to give the manager time to approve the transaction as it was above the limit the teller was allowed to give. My sister managed to get just $200.00 in four days since last week at these fly by night flamboyant banks ($50.00 per day). What people say in pubs about POSB is wrong. this is one stable bank, that's why I think it has more customers than any other banks.

Kuda Muchena - 17 December 2013

Apa maCivil Servants ndiwo anga ari ma rigging servants acho. Muchaiona ndondo.

taps - 17 December 2013

Kwanzi hatisanganisi mari netsamba kuposvo. ava ndivo vodya imi muchimhanyisana nema bank managers

chaporomoka chamukwenjere - 17 December 2013

Beating bank employees is not a solution. What happens is that employers, in this case the government, instructs their bank (CBZ) to transfer their employees' salaries to their respective banks. CBZ will make an electronic transfer to say Allied Bank. It is just an electronic transfer and no CASH. It would be left Allied Bank to look for the cash to give it's customers. Remember we are using US dollars. What the people should do is to make full use of plastic money. Most if not all bank account holders have ATM cards which can be used on the Zimswitch platform in shops to purchase goods. Most utility bills can now be paid electronically with someone using his or her cell phone. The advance in technology that has taken place should be taken advantage of and used to the maximum.

Bank Employee - 17 December 2013

These civil servants rigged the elections and supported ZANU PF so they must accept this shortage of money with open hands and smiles. They voted for these problems by voting for ZANU PF. Also they voted for Obert Mpofu and that is his indegenous bank ! ! ! ! So shortages of money is what you get when you indegenise banks.

Soy Sauce - 17 December 2013

@ chaporomoka chamukwenjere . Let people say whatever they want. Imagine this, Early in the morning there were five guys from our offices. Two of us went to POSB and there was a long line of people and we were given numbers 136 and 137 respectively. The other three went to Met bank were they don't mix letters and money. kikiki. There were few people than were at POSB. We were served at POSB within one hour. No limits, no favoritism. I withdrew $780.00 and my mate got $820.00. We went back to the office thinking we would find our workmates already there. They spend the whole day at their bank without withdrawing anything as there was no cash. Right now they are pestering us trying to borrow but we wont give them anything because they always insults us and our bank. Hee POSB nderechembere this and that. I have never felt this proud to be an account holder with the people's bank.

Codza - 17 December 2013

Whats happening in Allied bank is only the beginning. Worse things are on the horizon.So be warned. If you see your neighbour being shaved, wet your beard in preparation for a shave otherwise you will have a rough shave.

Chihuri - 17 December 2013

same same ne Kingdom ,todii vaGono vakaenda.

chivendera - 17 December 2013

since when are soldiers civil servants? allied bank was soldiers, don't report bull,

kunyepa - 18 December 2013

" civil servants, some in military attire " seriously! "joined by other depositors "....what other depositors surely kana wati civil servants and the army wht is left that you can refer to as "others"??? very poor reporting

ita serious - 18 December 2013

@Bank Employee. Use of plastic money need a country with working systems and confidence in the economy. How many outlets in Harare are online for that facility. Even banks are unable to share ATMs. The other thing is the exhorbitant fees charged at these ATMs or POSs. Can you imagine that Stan Chat is charging 3% on every electronic transaction whereas in other countries withdrawals and deposits are free. They make money from loans etc.

Sean - 18 December 2013

Now I fail to understand some people's thinking - how do you connect money shortage at banks with the imagined rigging and worse still associate civil servants with rigging then wishes them to suffer. Unless you are outside Zimbabwe, your wish will be granted by God and what, we will sink together.

dungas - 18 December 2013

@Bank Employee, ATM cards form such banks are no longer accepted in shops. Who would accept payment using a card from Met Bank and Allied in his right mind when the banks are on the verge of collapse

Others - 18 December 2013

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