Zim­babwe bank halts pay­ments

The Star Early Edition - - COMPANIES -

ZIM­BABWE’S Stew­ard Bank has sus­pended pay­ments to MultiChoice, the pay-TV sub­sidiary of Naspers, cit­ing the un­avail­abil­ity of for­eign cur­rency, in a sign that dol­lar short­ages are wors­en­ing in the na­tion. Lo­cal banks have been forced to limit with­drawals be­cause of cash short­ages, while im­porters face long de­lays in pay­ing for goods they bring in, forc­ing some busi­nesses to buy dol­lars on the par­al­lel mar­ket. Stew­ard Bank, a unit of mo­bile tele­phony op­er­a­tor Econet Wire­less, said that it was sus­pend­ing pay­ments to Multichoice, Africa’s largest pay-TV com­pany, which is pop­u­lar in Zim­babwe. “To as­sist in the ef­fec­tive al­lo­ca­tion of for­eign cur­rency re­serves at this crit­i­cal time, we would like to ad­vise that, with im­me­di­ate ef­fect, the bank has sus­pended DStv pay­ments for all ac­count classes (ex­cept pre­mium),” the bank said. Last year in May, the cen­tral bank set pri­or­i­ties for im­ports, im­posed lim­its on cash with­drawals and in­tro­duced a bond-note cur­rency in a bid to ease the acute short­age of money. The In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund in a re­port on Fri­day es­ti­mated that be­tween $600 mil­lion (R8.02 bil­lion) and $800m was in cir­cu­la­tion in Zim­babwe. Eco­nomic an­a­lysts say that most of the money was out­side the of­fi­cial bank sec­tor. Most Zim­bab­weans, who still vividly re­mem­ber the 500 bil­lion per­cent hy­per­in­fla­tion that wiped out their sav­ings and pen­sions in 2008, are hold­ing on to US dol­lars as a store of value, wors­en­ing the cur­rency short­ages.

PHOTO: NHLANHLA PHILLIPS

Pay­ments to Multichoice have been sus­pended by Stew­ard Bank due to cur­rency short­ages.

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