The little things that make a difference

We all remember that November Saturday like yesterday. The air was full of optimism as we embraced without regard for creed, colour, tribe or political inclination.

We were one enthusiastic, optimistic and happy family.

Now that the elections have come and gone, Parliament sworn in, Cabinet in place, here is to wishing that the optimism, faith, hope and vigour of November shall be rewarded.

With that in mind, my biggest beef is financial inclusivity: why is there  not inclusivity on the mobile money platform?

For instance, if one can transfer money between banks, which are competitors, why is it impossible to transfer money between mobile networks?

Why can’t one transfer money from either EcoCash to OneMoney? Or from OneMoney to TeleCash?

Is it because there are some egos that need constant stroking?

I can walk into a supermarket and buy my OneFusion air time using EcoCash. But why do I have to go to the supermarket instead of being allowed to simply do it on my phone?

My opinion is that Government, through the regulator, must push these companies to open up mobile money space if they are not willing to do the sensible thing themselves.

Some might argue that there is a monopoly going on in the mobile money market.

Why can’t one buy air time of their choice from their bank account, only being able to buy air time for the network registered on that bank? It is my money after all.

It might seem like a pedestrian argument but these are the small things that define the “ease of doing business”. How many other such “small” issues are we overlooking?

My beef is not confined to mobile money. There is a whole spectrum of practices that we need to confront.

For instance, on a journalistic tour of, for example, Nyanga, I come across an irrigation scheme. But to get inside and talk to people about how the scheme is progressing, I am told I must get “clearance from Harare”.

If you witness an accident in Gwanda, you have to get “confirmation” from a police spokesperson in Harare.

Seriously?

This is a hold-over from Ian Smith. Smith wanted didn’t want information to flow easily. Should such colonial practices be allowed to fester on?

And then there is this thing of businesses being told what time they should close their doors every day.

Surely, what business is it of Government or a local authority what time a general dealer in Makonde closes his/her doors?

Let business run for 24 hours. Developed countries do it.

In Zimbabwe, you work an 8-to-5 and are supposed to somehow make it to a particular shop before it closes at 5.

In the spirit of being open for business as well as the ease of doing business, we should liberalise business hours.

Each entity should open and close as when it smells profitability.

It still puzzles me somehow that Harare does not have a 24-hour supermarket, yet Bulawayo has that Spar along Fife Street, between Fifth and Sixth streets.

One can easily claim that in Harare there is bound to be more losses through shop lifting, especially in the dead of night, but in this day of closed circuit television, that should be no headache.

Then we have the banks!

Why are banks posting such huge profits when the economy, at least according to social media financial analysts, is on its knees?

Why is it every bank so keen to offer a consumer loan and not encourage savings or support for a business?

Remember the days one would send in their POSB green book for interest every year? What happened to that culture?

Before I forget, why is it that it is cheaper to get funeral insurance than medical aid cover?

We need to create a proper consumer sector, eating what we produce at reasonable cost.

That’s just my two cents.

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