Econet shop in Bulawayo a ticking time-bomb


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Econet’s main shop in Bulawayo could be a ticking time-bomb as customers are congested at the shop without any respect for social distancing exposing themselves to the coronavirus pandemic which has already affected 12 people in the city including one life.

When asked by The Insider if the company was aware of the congestion and what it was doing in view of the pandemic as seven cases in the city are still active, the company issued a press release to the media in which it announced that it was re-opening its shops and centres countrywide.

In a response to The Insider query, Econet Media and Corporate Communications executive, Fungayi Mandiveyi said: “I am sorry about the less-than-ideal conditions that customers have had to put up with at our shops. We are working hard to get this resolved as soon as possible.

“In short, our reopening of shops this week after a long lockdown period in which customers had pending service issues mounting has resulted in large numbers of customers visiting our shops all at once in need of service.”

The Insider was actually struck by the congestion at the Bulawayo shop from last week.

Most businesses in the central business district of Bulawayo have been operating almost normally, apart from sanitising clients, taking their temperature in some cases, and enforcing social distancing, since 4 May when the government relaxed lockdown restrictions and allowed people to move around provided they wore face masks.

“A vast majority of the customers are visiting the shops to get remittance money, send by friends and family abroad. But we – along with other international remittance agencies in the country – we have had challenges importing and moving the hard USD cash into the country because of the lockdown,” Mandiveyi said.

“We are working hard to get this resolved, but it is a logistical challenge that was created by the lockdown.”

The company urged its customers to be patient as it ramps up processes in and around its shops to balance quick service turnaround and ensuring public safety.

“We would like to advise our customers that we have begun the process of safely reopening our shops to the public. We have put in place public health and safety measures to protect both our staff and customers, and are now working to speed up service delivery at all our customer service centres,” Econet said in its press release.

“We earnestly implore our customers to be patient with us – particularly those coming to collect cash remittances from abroad and those in need of SIM card replacements – as we work to clear the backlog that built up during the lockdown.

“We import the US dollars and hard currency we dispense at our cash redemption shops. But due to the world-wide lockdown, which particularly affected air and cross-border travel, we have had some delays in getting imported foreign currency into the country. But we are working flat out to address this so that we clear all outstanding remittance payouts,” the company said.

Econet was recently reported to be one of the companies that have been cashing in on the coronavirus pandemic after its share price rose by 217 percent from the beginning of the year to 14 May.

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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