By Anna Chibamu
THE Finance Ministry has ordered the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) not to allow any money changers who coerce shoppers to swipe goods and services in return for US dollars inside their members’ retail shops.
Deputy Finance Minister Clemence Chiduwa said the money changers were “saboteurs” of the country’s economy, and if retailers did not act against them, the government would intervene and put a stop to it.
He accused foreign currency traders of pushing up the black market exchange rates for their illegal businesses to flourish, and thereby destroy the Foreign Exchange Auction System introduced by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) last June to control inflation.
The Deputy Head of Treasury also warned that if CZR failed to control the money changers, the government would come in, and impose new policy interventions to stop the illegal trade – a move that would affect traders’ operations.
Chiduwa was responding to questions from MPs on what was the government’s policy regarding money changers who were coercing shoppers to give them foreign currency who in turn use bank cards to swipe for goods or services.
“We have interventions in place and the (Foreign Currency) auction system has brought about stability to the economy. We are mopping out cash from the market and this speculation will come to an end,” Chiduwa warned.
He added; “We have engaged CZR and the retailing community to deal with the matter. It is not difficult at all. We can limit any swipe transactions even tomorrow. A policy intervention to stop this will come into place.”
The auction rate is currently pegged at US$1 to $84 against the parallel market rate of US$1 to between $130-145.
MDC Alliance Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese argued the challenge in the economy was that there was shortage of hard cash on the market.
“There is a shortage of cash. That is why this is happening. The auction rate is not sustainable, policies are not working,” Gonese told Chiduwa.
However, the Deputy Finance Minister insisted the Foreign Currency Auction System remained efficient.
“The auction system is an open system. There is no control over bids. Whatever currency we use reflects money on the market. Our system is efficient. We want to deal with the speculators. The situation we are in is not peculiar to Zimbabwe,” he said.
Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Ziyambi Ziyambi who was standing in for Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube also admitted the government had no policy to control economic ‘saboteurs’.
“We have no law regarding the coercing of consumers to swipe in return for cash,” admitted Ziyambi.