Government says it is illegal for supermarkets or other retail shops to demand that customers using bank cards buy a certain amount of goods for them to get some cash in return. Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira said this in the Senate on Thursday as she urged Zimbabweans, including pensioners, to migrate from cash exchanges to electronic transactions.
Chief Charumbira asked what policy interventions Government was putting in place to protect consumers using electronic cards from being fleeced by retailers. Asked Chief Charumbira: “Are you considering further policy measures in view of the fact that the plastic money you have referred to is being abused by some business people?
“When they see that the pensioner cannot withdraw money from the bank, they can use that plastic money to buy from the till. They will say you can buy on condition that you buy goods worth half of your monthly pension and we give you change in cash,” he said.
“So, if you earn $200, they will say buy goods worth $100, then we will give you change in cash. They force you to use half of your monthly pension on groceries which you do not need. Is there any policy to protect pensioners?”
Minister Mupfumira said: “Obviously, it is illegal to do conditional selling. If it is brought to the authorities’ attention, it will be dealt with accordingly and the relevant ministry should be advised.
“The plastic money I was talking about is like your Visa cards and so forth because we are moving away, like everywhere else in the world, from using cash or transporting cash and we are saying we need to get everybody on board, including people in rural areas to be able to have that plastic (card) similar to a Visa card. But that which you are talking about is abuse and should be reported to the relevant authorities.”
MDC-T Senator for Midlands Mrs Lilian Timveos asked Minister Mupfumira what Government was doing about pensioneers whose pay dates were changed on several occasions resulting in some of them spending a lot of money trying to access $20 that some of them got.
Minister Mupfumira said it was incumbent upon Treasury to advise the ministry on time when pay dates changed from the earlier advertised ones. “I have noticed with concern that there have been incidences where the pay dates have been changed at the last moment without adequate time for us to inform our pensioners,” she said.
“It is regrettable. We are taking some action to advise and inform the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to ensure that any changes must be communicated well in time so that the pensioners do not waste their money coming (to town) and having to wait for long,” she said.
“It has happened and it is something which we will actively pursue with the relevant minister, otherwise we should have our normal dates but because of the challenges that we are facing it happens sometimes that we cannot pay on due dates,” said Minister Mupfumira. herald