HARARE – The invention and widespread use of mobile phones in Africa and Zimbabwe in particular has greatly revolutionised lives of many people.
The young and the elderly all converse in unprecedented ways than their predecessors.
If you are one of the hordes of people who use commuter omnibuses as a means of moving from one point to the other, you are likely to hear the conductors telling the driver that there is a “phone shop” in the omnibus.
This is a code to the driver that a passenger is on the phone so that the usually high music volume in the omnibus is lowered so that phone conversations can be done without interference.
The privacy of most calls that are made in commuter omnibuses especially when the conductor would have signalled for the “phone shop” is in most cases suddenly lost.
All other passengers listen with forced keen interest to the conversation although at times they only get one side of it.
One such conversation in one of the commuter omnibuses went as follows “I am sorry boss, I could not bring your money today, yes the money was deposited in my bank account but my bank is having serious difficulties in dispensing cash.
“I went there three times today but I did not get anything — this bank is really disappointing me, I just do not know what to do, I will call you tomorrow, bye”.
After this conversation, all the other passengers who were in the omnibus started to discuss about the problems that are currently bedevilling some locally-owned banks.
Contributions showed that most people are no longer eager to keep their money in banks especially those owned by local bankers.
They would rather risk losing the money while in their own custody as most of them have horror stories to tell everyone who bothers to listen about the misery they found themselves in when good for nothing thieves masquerading as bankers robbed them of their money, live large while depositors suffer and endure long periods in queues waiting patiently for something they should get on demand.
Recently one of the locally-owned banks had a familiar note on its doors “CLOSED BY THE ORDER OF THE RESERVE BANK”.
This behaviour explains why many people are more than ever reluctant to keep their money in banks.
Most people are really taken aback on the real role of a central bank when it only acts when the situation is dire and victims are in endless pain.
We thought it was only governments that do not learn from experience but it seems monetary authorities who are the custodians and supervisors of banking institutions should play a leading role in protecting unsuspecting depositors who in most cases are not privy to what will be taking place in the sector.
The supervisory and surveillance of style is always a case of “too little, too late”.
The so-called ordinary man is not-so ordinary after all and if being ordinary means avoiding robbers who lure you to give them your money, make interest from it, charge you for keeping it and in the worst scenario like what has happened over the last few years, steal the money and get away with murder, then it’s good to be ordinary.
There is no sophistication in being robbed in broad daylight.
The collapse of banks in a country facing a liquidity crunch like Zimbabwe is bad news by any standards.
Confidence in the banking sector must be restored as a matter of urgency, otherwise most of the money will circulate under pillows and mattresses.
Most people are not foolish enough to give food meant for human beings to the dogs.