POLICE in Bulawayo have launched a crackdown on foreign currency dealers in a bid to eradicate the thriving black market that government blames for the current cash shortages pl
aguing the country.
The police, who are involved in the joint exercise – codenamed Operation Clean Up – with municipal police and state security agents, have intensified operations in the areas frequented by the foreign currency dealers.
Armed riot policemen have also been enlisted in the raiding parties in the area referred to as the “World Bank” in Bulawayo.
Police spokesmen for Bulawayo, Smile Dube, confirmed police had embarked on the new operation aimed at driving the forex dealers out of business.
“Operation Clean Up is now in full swing and we want to clean up the city and drive away those foreign currency dealers,” said Dube.
“We arrest them and fine them but those who have consistent cases of arrest are taken to court,” he said.
Police have intensified the arrest of forex dealers referred to as Osiphatheleni after President Mugabe in his recent rally in Tsholotsho accused them of hoarding foreign currency in the country.
Mugabe, at the same rally, accused local business tycoon, Manilal Naran, of being the brains behind the thriving black market.
The hard-hitting Mugabe alleged that Naran was hoarding the scarce foreign currency available in the country.
The government has accused the forex dealers of causing the current shortages that have seen banks and other financial institutions going without enough cash for clients.
Dube said the police would deal with the black market, warning offenders would be charged under the Exchange Control Act.
Bulawayo has a thriving black market that trades in all the major world currencies.
Former Finance minister Simba Makoni once referred to the street where the forex dealers operate from as the country’s “World Bank”.