Till operators charge commission on cash-backs

SUPERMARKETS till operators in Zimbabwe are now exploiting on the cash shortages to line up their pockets by demanding kick-backs so as to process cash-outs to clients.

Most local banks have lowered their cash withdrawal limits, a situation that has seen desperate Zimbabweans opting to use swipe services at the country’s various retailers and wholesalers for cashbacks. As a result, the developments have opened a window of opportunity for till operators at the supermarkets and wholesalers who are demanding kick-backs to process the cash-outs.

Most of the shops have a cashback limit of $100 but the till operators are exploiting the situation, giving any amount even up to $1 000 then asking for a ten percent from that amount. A till operator who identified himself as Kuda said their lives have improved since the start of cash crisis.

“We are benefiting from this crisis, most of the people are desperate for cash — we are now charging 10 percent for every amount we give.”

Another till operator who refused to be named said there is coordination between till operators and their supervisors in these deals.

“As you know that in most supermarkets there are lot of cameras, so it is very difficult for us till operators to do this without the knowledge of our supervisors. At the end of the day, we share profits with our superiors, the money we get from kick-backs to process the cash-outs to clients is more than our salaries so some of us pray that this situation remain for a long time.”

Some of the customers interviewed by the WeekendPost said the only easy option left for them to get money is to give kick-backs to till operators.

“I cannot spend the whole day waiting in a bank queue and get $50 at the end of the day. We are used to this life as you know that in 2008 there was that issue of money burning, now we are also in the same situation.”

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa recently blamed depositors for fuelling the country’s biting cash-crisis by keeping money outside the formal banking system. Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in 2009 and now uses mainly the US dollar and the South African rand, although other currencies are also legal tender.

But, former Finance minister Tendai Biti said the present cash shortages could only be addressed after identifying the root of the hiccups. The former Finance minister credited with single-handedly helping Zimbabwe’s transition into a dollarised economy under whose stewardship the country experienced growth in the manufacturing sector said there was need to inject cash into the productive sectors.

According to the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (Baz) official Charity Jinya, while the maximum limit is $1 000, banks are releasing cash based on their capacities. However, Biti said it was time government considered joining a regional currency body to re-balance the economy. —Blessings Mashaya

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