Retailers defy govt directive, continue selling products in US$

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By Alois Vinga

MANY retail outlets in Harare have continued selling their products in US dollars despite a recent government move to outlaw the use of the multi-currency system in place of the local dollar.

A snap survey in Harare’s CBD Friday revealed that several shops were still asking their customers to pay in US dollars.

At one supermarket along Chinhoyi Street where journalists posed as ordinary customers, grocery items such as cooking oil were exorbitantly priced in local currency but the shop attendant offered to accept US$ payments.

Quizzed on why they were asking for a currency that has been outlawed, one of the attendants said the US dollar was what they were using to acquire from outside, some of the goods they were selling.

“We need the US$ because we import groceries from South Africa and other neighbouring countries using foreign currency. So before accepting US dollars, we first vet all customers and if we suspect that they are police officers or government officials, we then decline the US$ payments,” he said.

It was also observed that most pharmacies were carrying out transactions in US dollars and were thriving on regular clients who get medication consistently as this is less risky.

The other strategy which the retail outlets are using to force customers to use foreign currency is through over pricing their goods in local currency.

In one of the shops, a 3kg gas cylinder which used to cost US$15 during the multi-currency era, is now being sold for ZWL$400.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president, Denford Mutashu warned members against the malpractice.

“The retail and wholesale sector players should desist from wantonly and deliberately breaking the law for personal aggrandizement and unethical enrichment.

“Those accepting US dollar payments or any foreign currency should stop forthwith as the long arm of the law will soon catch up them and they will either face jail or closure of their businesses,” he said.