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Zimbabwe’s president picks fight with tycoon as economy slumps

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: Getty Images
President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: Getty Images
Foto: Getty Images

Zimbabwe’s president has picked a fight with the country’s most successful businessman and the economy may be the loser.

Under pressure from a plunging currency and inflation running at 737%, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration on June 27 restricted almost all mobile-money transactions in a country where 90% of commerce is conducted on handsets because of cash shortages. On July 17, the police accused Econet Wireless, which dominates mobile-cash transfers, of money laundering.

The battle pits Mnangagwa, who came to power in a November 2017 coup, against Strive Masiyiwa, the businessman who founded and controls Econet. The company’s mobile-money unit Ecocash has 11.4 million customers and a 98% share of the market.

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