GUTU - The business community in some parts of Gutu district is abusing recipients of the CARE EcoCash transfer programme by forcing them to buy groceries instead of giving them cash to acquire maize grain, TellZim News has learnt.
The CARE EcoCash transfer programme was introduced to assist the rural folk to buy maize grain in view of the persistent food shortages that are being experienced in some parts of Gutu district. The programme replaced the old system which saw the organization ferrying maize grain into the various wards for distribution to the people. The old system was costly and involved a number of logistical problems that were done away with by the new system.
Some recipients of the CARE EcoCash transfer programme who spoke to TellZim News said they were encountering problems when they wanted to access their money through the Ecocash agents.
"When the programme started we were told to open Ecocash accounts so that the money could be transferred directly into our cellphones.
"This is what we did and while CARE International has honoured its side of the bargain we are finding it difficult to access the money.
"Business people who are EcoCash agents however force us to buy groceries before they can give us anything from our cash-out proceeds. At the end of the day we cannot acquire the maize grain to feed our families," the recipients said.
Some business people who spoke to this reporter said the current cash crisis in the country was forcing them to ask recipients to spent part of their proceeds before they could cash out their money.
"You see, we cannot fork out cash without receiving anything in return. What will happen at the end of the day is that we will not have any cash to order more provisions. By asking them to spend a portion of their money we ensure that we continue giving them that service," they said.
Ward 19 councillor, Cleophas Muzindi, said they were aware of what is happening.
"We are trying to engage the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) so that recipients can transfer their money to the organization and receive maize grain in return. That way they will bypass the EcoCash agents and use the money for its intended purpose," Muzindi said.news