TENDAI BHEBE IN BULAWAYO
More companies trading on the black market will be blacklisted, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mthuli Ncube has warned, as the government tightens screws on speculators.
The warning comes after the Treasury blacklisted several companies for channelling funds to the black market in the past few months.
“We have just discovered that the middlemen, between producers and retailers, the so-called aggregators are also part of the problem,” Ncube said after a tour of Bulawayo’s central business district last week.
“So, we decided that (next week) we are going to fine and blacklist them so that they really stop these kinds of activities. Any shop that starts behaving so badly, their licences are going to be withdrawn and I don’t want them to blame the government.”
Most businesses have adopted speculative pricing as they chase the parallel market exchange rates and as such are now charging exorbitant prices for goods and services.
Ncube said organised companies were working with ‘osiphatheleni’ (money changers)
“I went to the so-called ‘World Bank’, the people who sell currency on the streets in Bulawayo and I told them what they do is unjustifiable. Selling currency in the street, freely without shame, where do they get this money? They have brand new notes and this is unacceptable,” Ncube said.
Recently, police in Bulawayo launched a probe into the criminal activities of illegal foreign currency dealers who are using Point of Sale machines and arrested seven.
Ncube said the economy was going to continue to use the Zimbabwean dollar.
“We need it, we need to preserve it and protect it as government. If we stop using the local currency, it will lead to some companies closing down. Some companies were able to reopen and invest because we introduced the Zimbabwe dollar,” he said.
“It is totally unacceptable. We have been lowering interest rates we moved from 200% and now we are at 140%. So, we are wondering whether we should increase it again.”
He said the government was working on putting measures to help stabilise the economy.
Roben Hlaziphi, a branch manager for OK Zimbabwe along Jason Moyo and 8th Avenue in Bulawayo said:“Our prices are influenced by our suppliers and we are forced to increase our prices. We use the official rate.”