Zimbabwean cross-border traders are cutting right back on cash after years of being a target for robbers switching to plastic money.
They hope with the new switch, they will cease being a target for robbers.
Criminals have been targeting foreign-registered vehicles and cross-border buses along major highways in South Africa and some major highways in Zimbabwe.
When attacking buses and vehicles going outside the country to South Africa, Botswana and Zambia, the robbers would grab cash and jewellery and the habit of traders keeping their money in cash made them an ideal target.
But this is no longer the case.
The Zimbabwe Cross-Border Traders’ Association has struck a deal with FBC Bank to issue the prepaid MasterCard to thousands of its members.
The association’s president Mr Killer Zivhu led scores of cross-border traders to South Africa over the weekend on a test run of the FBC MasterCard.
Speaking in Mussina, Mr Zivhu said more banks were set to be engaged in due course.
He said they decided on switching to plastic money after getting a lot of complaints from members on the rising cases of robberies targeting them at home and in neighbouring countries.
“This is a major milestone in the history of cross-border traders and the deal we have struck will help us trade freely without any worry of losing our money,” said Mr Zivhu.
“Thousands of people depend on cross-border trading and this move with help secure their businesses.”
Mr Zivhu commended the Government for opening borders to fully vaccinated travellers.
“This is a welcome move that will benefit the majority of Zimbabweans who depend on crossing the borders to feed their families,” he said.
“It is pleasing to note that many people have been vaccinated and that they are now able to cross the borders and revive their businesses.
“We want to thank President Mnangagwa and his Government for securing adequate vaccines for Zimbabweans. A lot of people have been vaccinated and now it’s easier for them to travel across borders, and restart their businesses.”
Mr Zivhu said the previous requirement for travellers to obtain PCR certificates had become a challenge for many ordinary Zimbabweans because of the high costs involved.
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He said given that vaccination remains free in Zimbabwe, many cross-border traders had taken the jabs, and the new requirement reduces the cost of doing business for them.
The Zimbabwe Cross-Border Traders Association urged more people to get vaccinated so that they travel across borders, without hassles and at lower cost.
Mr Zivhu said the re-opening of borders is expected to boost the economy fortunes of most Zimbabweans who rely on cross-border related businesses.
Where more people are vaccinated, and herd immunity is attained, he said, there would be less likelihood for the Government to restrict cross-border travel.
Mr Zivhu said for those in the informal sector, a valid passport was enough to get them working and fending for their families.
Ms Christina Baipai of Gweru, who mainly imports groceries said: “On behalf of cross-border traders, I want to thank our leadership and FBC Bank for availing us the opportunity to use plastic money.”