ILLEGAL cash dealers are back on the streets of Bulawayo, charging desperate citizens over 50% premiums on United States dollars.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
This is despite the fact that in September this year, former president Robert Mugabe issued Statutory Instrument 122A of 2017 — Exchange Control (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (No 5) — to deal with the widespread cash vending on the streets.
Following the promulgation of the law, scores of forex dealers were arrested and taken to court.
However, it seems the police who are mandated to arrest them have taken off pressure on them following the army’s recent takeover of the running of the country, which culminated in the ushering in of a new dispensation.
A survey conducted by Standardbusiness in Bulawayo last week revealed that illegal money changers have returned to the streets in full force.
Scores of them were seen conducting their business freely opposite Tredgold Building, which houses magistrates courts as well as between Fifth Avenue and Fort Street.
They were freely and loudly advertising their cash-selling business like they used to before the prohibiting law was promulgated.
They told Standardbusiness that police had disappeared from the streets following the army takeover of government and, therefore, there was nothing to fear.
“These days it is business as usual. We thank the army for pushing police out of the streets and giving us space to operate unhindered,” said one illegal money changer who preferred anonymity.
The news crew established that premiums on the United States dollars had risen to over 50% on the back of increased demand from companies sourcing foreign currency from the parallel market.
For instance, $100 was being sold for $150 bond notes and R100 was trading at $8,50 bond notes.
Efforts to obtain comment from national police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba over the increase in the number of illegal money changers on the streets were fruitless as she was said to be in marathon meetings.
Her deputy, Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said he was not at work.
“My friend, I’m at Bindura University defending my dissertation. I’m not at work,” he said.
A police source, however, said illegal money changers were taking advantage of the police’s absence on the streets following the army’s intervention.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe remains in a cash crisis that has resulted in cash barons across the country taking advantage of the situation, charging between 45% and 60% interest to desperate people in need of cash.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya’s mobile phone went unanswered last week.
But recently he told Standardbusiness that the central bank was aware of the return of the cash dealers on the streets.