Pensioners queue to withdraw scarcity cash at a local bank in Harare yesterday. Picture by Justin Mutenda

Pensioners decry failure to access cash

Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Correspondent
Today is exactly seven days before the world celebrates one of the most popular and celebrated holidays on the Christian calendar, Christmas. A holiday marked in many different ways depending on what one believes in, for Christians who dominate the country’s population, Christmas is about remembering the birth of Jesus Christ.

Pensioners are also looking forward to celebrating this festive season.
But with a few days to go, failure to access their money in banks is a thorn in the flesh.
Pensioners in Harare were yesterday queueing to access their money.

Some had travelled from as far as Murehwa, about 90km away from Harare.
They were sleeping outside banks as they did not have money to commute daily.
Even those who can afford the transport fares still have a reason to sleep in Harare, as they have to join long winding queues at 3am as banks usually serve an average of 100 pensioners daily.

Racing against time to do their shopping, accessing their money is now turning out to be a nightmare.
However, the fortunate ones had something to smile about as they received between $100 and $200, while the rest failed to get even a penny.

2 019 years after the death of Christ, Zimbabwean pensioners are still wondering if they will enjoy the annual holiday.
Seated impatiently at POSB Nelson Mandela Branch, Ms Esther Mubairakuenda has lost hope.

“I have failed to access my money since Friday. Today it is the same story again. I arrived here at 6am and bank workers were promising that money would be disbursed around 11am only to be told to come back tomorrow.

“I am now supposed to spend another $20 on bus fare without factoring in food. There is no public toilet around this place, I forked out $2,50 to access one,” she said.
Ms Mubairakuenda demanded that they get their money at once.

“I was getting $32 which was raised to $160, but it is still paltry. POSB is disbursing between $70 to $100 daily.
“They should increase withdrawal limits,” she said.

Ms Virginia Kasirai said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe announced that it had printed new notes and issued a directive that people should withdraw $300, a move which banks should follow.

“Yesterday (Monday) they were giving $70, but I failed to access it. The withdrawal limit varies between $70 to 100.
“On Saturday I spent the whole morning at the bank only to be told there was no cash.

“It is better if they give us the weekly $300 limit at once. Withdrawing $70 and spending $35 inclusive of transport and food is not adding up. My family will not travel for the Christmas holidays due to these cash shortages.

“Christmas is upon us, but I am failing to access my money since last week Saturday. I am actually at pains as to plan for this festive season, no money for food and clothes for the children,” she said.
Mr Tembo Serima said accessing his retirement package was proving to be a burden.

“I have 10-year NSSA savings, but I am getting the money in bits and pieces at most $100, of which the large chunk of it is spent on bus fare.

“An old man like me can no longer afford to travel up and down daily,” he said.
First Capital Bank branches including the First Street one were disbursing $200, a mixture of notes and coins, CABS $100 and POSB $70.

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