Inflation figure ban challenged
Publish date: 07 October 2019
Issue Number: 844
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
The government ban on the publication of inflation figures as Zimbabwe's economy takes a nosedive has been challenged in court by lawyer and former Finance Minister Tendai Biti. He is representing the National Social Security Authority Workers' Union and the Zimbabwe Pension and Insurance Rights Trust, which champions the rights of pension-fund members and policyholders. A TimesLIVE report notes that they have petitioned the High Court to set aside the ban that the Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube imposed in August after annual inflation reached a 10-year high of 175.66% in June. Sources say Ncube acted after Zanu-PF's central decision-making body argued that the figures reflected badly on the government's attempts to tame inflation. The two organisations Biti represents describe Ncube's decision as ‘irrational, grossly unreasonable, illegal and illegitimate’.
Zimbabwe's central bank has banned mobile money agencies from facilitating cash withdrawals or deposits with immediate effect. The country is going through a serious cash crisis, with very few banks being able to provide depositors with physical cash. As a result, Zimbabweans have been resorting to mobile money agencies which were illegally selling cash at a premium. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe issued a statement saying 'some economic agents are engaging in illegal activities, abusing the cash-in, cash-out and cash-back facilities thereby compromising the public interest objectives of national payment systems in the economy'. A report on the Fin24 site notes that analysts say the central bank is dealing with symptoms and not solving the real problem, which is the limited availability of cash. 'We have approximately $600m in circulation against $15bn in money supply, so there is a serious mismatch. We need to print physical notes,' said Walter Mandeya of Trigrams Investment.