BY SHARON BUWERIMWE/ JAIROS SAUNYAMA
VICE-President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday threatened black market money traders with long jail terms and declared that the country will not redollarise despite a sharp weakening of the Zimdollar.
Addressing a Zanu PF rally in Marondera yesterday where most attendees were bussed to the venue, Chiwenga said black market trade was fuelling spikes in prices of basic goods and services.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa failed to attend the rally at Marondera’s Rudhaka Stadium despite being advertised as the star of the rally.
More than 100 buses were used to transport supporters to Marondera, despite the police barring the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party from doing the same at its Highfield rally which took place yesterday as well.
Only politburo members from the province attended the rally.
The few party bigwigs, who attended Chiwenga’s rally, were political commissar Mike Bimha, Patrick Chinamasa (secretary for finance) and Sydney Sekeramayi.
In his address, Chiwenga said the government was trying to fix the black market which he said had destabilised the economy.
“The black market has led to price hikes. We can’t afford our daily needs. It has also led to our local currency losing value. So the government is in the process of fixing this mess. Those found on the wrong side of the law will be dealt with accordingly,” Chiwenga said.
“We have warned you and we are going to make sure that you won’t come out of jail if arrested. We are going to introduce hefty measures. So people, please help us catch those wrongdoers who are dragging us behind.”
Recently, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe blamed the widening exchange rate premiums on the alternative market which it said was stoking inflation and price increases since July last year.
Chiwenga said the country would not adopt the use foreign currency in the future.
“Using other currencies brings nothing, but poverty. The use of United States dollars is devaluing our local currency.
“The use of US dollars came after the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and the likes of (Tendai) Biti (former Finance minister) wanted to use foreign currency. We do not want foreign currency, we want our Zimbabwean dollar,” he said.
Chiwenga, a former army general, reiterated that Zanu PF would continue to rule and that the nation will be developed without reliance on foreign aid.
Marondera town had a massive facelift ahead of the rally, with roads rehabilitated, among other infrastructure in anticipation of Mnangagwa’s visit.
Three constituencies and 10 wards are vacant due to deaths or recalls of MPs and councillors.