Babies Sleep In Banking Corridors As Mothers Queue For Cash Amid Crunch

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By Thandiwe Garusa

LESS than 24 hours to Christmas, mothers with babies are sleeping in queues at Bureaux de change malls as they try to get cash and buy groceries for festive holidays.

Government this year permitted Bureaux de change to process small value foreign currency transactions up to US$50 per week at the official exchange rate.

Cash is sold at an exchange rate of US1: ZW$120, while the black-market rate is at US1: ZW$220.

People have been forced to sleep at bureau de change malls despite risks of contracting Covid-19 as social distancing is not observed.

I have been sleeping in this queue for days, surprisingly managers come and randomly pick a number of people to give cash and those people are money changers. I earn $ZW21 000, the parallel rate is now ZW23 000 for US$100. At least here at Bureau de change it is ZW12 000, that is why we come here but the situation is painful,” one woman said.

Another woman who says she has been sleeping at the mall for two nights with her one-year-old suckling baby said: “I have been coming here for three weeks and failing to get cash, there are thieves here stealing phones and bus fares. Some even end up fighting and the bank authorities do nothing about it.”

“Cooking oil is going for US$7,5 in supermarkets whilst in the street it is US$3 so we cannot buy in supermarkets because my whole salary will not buy me groceries enough for the month.”

People also claimed police officers have been demanding bribes to let people sleep at those malls.