Angry Allied Bank clients on Monday caused chaos at one of the bank’s branches in Harare after they failed to access cash from their accounts held by the financial institution.
The customers turned violent after they failed to withdraw money from their bank accounts when bank officials reportedly set a maximum withdrawal limit of $50 per person due to the cash crunch affecting the nation.
The irate clients, most of them civil servants who have started getting their December salaries and bonuses, confronted bank officials at the institution’s branch located in Harare’s central business district at the intersection of Jason Moyo Street and Third Street and ended up assaulting the unnamed branch manager, who has reportedly been hospitalized.
One of the customers, Kenneth Nzarayebani, who claimed to be part of the group that smashed the windows of the bank, told VOA Studio 7 that he was not happy that he could not access his money from the bank. He says he needs the money for his family's Christmas shopping.
Another client, who refused to be named, said he fears the country’s financial problems could slide back to the 2008 era where banks could not offer cash to their clients.
Chairman of the Allied Bank board, Farai Mutamangira, confirmed receiving a report of the incident but could not comment further saying he was out of the country.
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba said anti-riot police have been deployed at the bank, adding a statement would be issued after the completion of police investigations.
Meanwhile, the director of Coalition Against Corruption, Terry Mutsvanga, said financial institutions should be transparent in their dealings to improve the public’s confidence in the banking system.
Mutsvanga added that the liquidity crunch is being exacerbated by the delay by the finance minister to announce the 2014 national budget.
After postponing the budget presentation a couple of times, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa in now expected to do so on Thursday.
The vandalism at the Allied Bank follows last week’s cancellation of Trust Bank’s licence by the central bank on allegations of failing to meet its financial obligations to clients and capital requirements.