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No joy for Bulawayo forex dealers

The accused were arrested on April 22 along Fort Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues.

TWELVE suspected illegal foreign currency dealers in Bulawayo who were arrested and charged with violating the country’s exchange control regulations will spend the weekend behind bars as they await their bail hearing.

The suspects appeared separately before Bulawayo magistrate Sherpard Mjanja on Thursday before they were remanded to different dates as they were charged separately. The accused were arrested on April 22 along Fort Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues.

According to court papers, the accused were arrested by detectives who found them illegally dealing in foreign currency, displaying varied amounts of foreign currency while also touting for clients.

Police launched a nationwide blitz against the illegal foreign currency dealers popularly known as money changers accusing them of seeking to undermine the newly introduced Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) currency.

However, many of the small retail shops in Bulawayo are not accepting debit cards, demanding foreign currency only.

Industry and Commerce minister Mangaliso Ndlovu told Southern Eye that there was evidence of overreaction by the market to the monetary policy measures taken by the central bank.

“I have to emphasise that our primary concern in this case are the consumers, whose rights are obviously affected. These issues are largely monetary policy-related and we hope that the central bank will tighten screws on those sabotaging the economy,” he said.

Ndlovu said this is the first week the ZiG notes have been in circulation and they are monitoring the situation.

ZiG bank notes and coins were rolled out this week, with several banks failing to satisfy demand.

Meanwhile, speaking during the official opening of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga issued a stern warning to gold and foreign currency dealers, saying strict measures will be put in place to curb leakages and exchange rate manipulation.

“We are going to put strict measures, which can see heads rolling, every gramme of gold must be accounted for, we need our gold because it is God given and no one came with gold to Zimbabwe but it’s in our soil,” Chiwenga said.

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