'Filling stations must accept plastic money'

HARARE - Fuel dealers have no right to set limits or reject debit cards at service stations.

This comes as dealers in Harare are demanding cash at fuel stations, rejecting plastic money and mobile payment platforms such as Ecocash.

Mutoko East MP Ricky Mawere wanted to know what was government policy as regards to usage of plastic money. He gave reference to service stations who are “short changing people.”

“They are calling for a maximum swipe of $20. So, I do not think it is going to work well for the nation. What is your ministry doing about this if you are aware, and if you are not aware, what corrective measures are you supposed to be taking because we want a free for all festive period?” He said it was an aberration.

Energy and Power Development minister Samuel Undenge said government encourages the use of plastic money across board, even within Zesa for payment purposes.

“That is what we have informed everybody to do. But, how plastic money is used et cetera, my ministry does not make policy over plastic money. We encourage our companies to make use of Point-of -Sale machines because cash is not readily available,” Undenge said.

He added: “... we encourage every garage to accept and make use of plastic money. As I said, respective policy is not done by us. We encourage them because we appreciate the fact that there is a cash shortage and we must move towards plastic money. That is what we encourage the garages to do.”

Government has been on a campaign to boost electronic payments in a country long dominated by cash.

Zimbabwe lags far behind other Sadc countries in non-cash transactions. But Zimbabweans have suddenly fallen in love with payment by plastic after cash controls were imposed and banks faced shortages of dollar notes.

The country depends on imports for everything from food to fuel. But it has suffered from a shortage of dollars in the banking system to pay for those imports since government policy has driven away tourists and foreign investors, crucial sources of hard currency.

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