Illegal forex dealers hit hard by government move

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

ILLEGAL foreign currency dealers popularly known as ‘Osiphatheleni’ in Bulawayo seem to have disappeared following government’s drastic move to ban international and regional currencies in domestic transactions.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube on Monday designated the Zimbabwe Dollar represented by the Bond Note and RTGS balances as sole legal tender within the country dissolving the multi-currency system adopted 10 years ago.

A survey carried out by in Bulawayo showed that most money changers were just milling around at their usual places of business but with no transactions taking place.

Some dealers were just seated in their cars monitoring the situation while some daring were charging albeit at very low rates.

On Monday before Ncube announced the move US$100 was equivalent to RTGS$1200 while the same amount was equivalent to 960-Bond on the parallel market.

But these rates had plummeted to $500 for the bond note and RTGS4650-00 for US$100.

“I am still waiting for cash and rates. I will be starting transacting maybe later during the day or tomorrow (Wednesday). Right now, I am just monitoring the situation,” said a money changer who operates at Tredgegold Building on Tuesday.

Another money changer who only identified himself as Eddie said a lot of plain clothes police officers have been moving around disguising as potential clients.

“The situation is not good. Since morning, police officers in plain clothes have been moving around pretending to be clients. Two of our colleagues fell into the trap and they have been arrested. I would rather take a low profile for now and see how the situation unfolds,” he said.

Some of the foreign currency dealers said they now prefer to do business with their clients through phone calls.

A survey by this publication also revealed that all the shops which were charging their goods and services in foreign currency had since complied with the government’s directive.

The prices of most commodities remained unchanged in bond and RTGS.