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Sex workers switch to mobile payment systems

SEX workers in Harare are now demanding that clients pay for services through mobile platforms to avoid being duped with most now moving around with at least two mobile phones to facilitate transactions.

Mobile payment technology was introduced as Zimbabwe struggled with liquidity after ditching the local dollar for foreign currencies in 2009 with the Econet Wireless-owned EcoCash now the dominant service.

Econet’s rivals Telecel and NetOne have also launched rival platforms in TeleCash and OneWallet respectively.

And, tired of losing out to “unscrupulous” clients, some sex workers in the capital are now insisting on mobile money, it has emerged.

Clients have to pay through their mobile phones before “business”.


Those who spoke to at some city night spots said mobile payments protect them from thieves and corrupt police officers who demand bribes during raids.

Most said they now carry with them at least two cell-phone lines from different service providers to enable the transactions.

“Some clients would pay you before you offer them sexual services and then after we finish they violently demand their money back,” said one Shamie who operates at a popular night spot at Greencroft Shopping Centre.

“So I now request that my clients to pay via EcoCash or Telecash before I offer them services.”

She added: “It is only when they (clients) don’t have money in their mobile accounts that I request that they leave cash with my friends because a lot of them will use you for nothing.”

Another sex worker who only wanted to be identified as Mavis said they were also losing money to police officers who demanded bribes when they arrest “us for loitering”.

This reporter witnessed the new payment system in operation at City Spots bar, Holly’s Tipperary Night Club at the corner of Five Avenue and Leopold Takawira Avenue and the Exhibition Park’s Dandaro Beer Garden.

At Tipperary, a busy Mobile Money Transfer Agent operates throughout the night. A middle aged man who operates the service however, said he was not aware that sex workers were using the facility to get payment from their clients.

“I’m just offering mobile money transfer services to people because here lots of them do some cash in and out.

“What they do thereafter is none of my business and I do not care. But business is brisk here – that is all I can say,” he said.NewZimbabwe