Source: EDITORIAL COMMENT : Stop treating illegal forex dealers with kid gloves | The Herald October 8, 2019
LAST Friday, the Government gazetted yet another set of rules as part of measures to stifle those trading in any currency which is not the Zimbabwe dollar.
This is envisaged to foster discipline in the economy because the rules are clear and tough to deter those involved in the illicit practice.
Trading in any currency, which is not the Zimdollar, now attracts a fixed $6 000 fine and failure to pay the fine will result in the person involved being jailed, according to the Government Gazette.
Since the advent of the new dispensation in 2017, authorities have been battling to discover where some of the causes of economic problems affecting the country emanate from.
And one of the most prominent areas has been singled out as distortions being caused by those illegally dealing in foreign currency.
It is this area that has become an impediment to economic recovery efforts.
The authorities have reacted in various ways to this illegality, including setting out laws and rules to deter the practice.
But we notice that illegal foreign currency dealers are still holding on, in many instances going about their dirty work openly, and sometimes in the full glare of law enforcement agents.
It is time law enforcers changed their attitude, which seems to treat such criminals with kid gloves.
We urge the Government and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to get tougher with the illegal foreign currency dealers who continue to distort economic fundamentals.
From now onwards, it should be made clear to anyone harbouring the intention of illegally dealing in foreign currency that it is a risky behaviour that comes with a tough punishment.
It is unthinkable to notice that we seem to have surrendered to the illegal foreign currency dealers at the expense of the economy and the whole population.
These illegal foreign currency dealers form just an insignificant fraction of the country’s population, yet they seem to be in the driving seat when it comes to setting the market trends in terms of the currency exchange rates.
They just wake up and announce a new exchange rate on a daily basis, and everyone including unscrupulous businesses follow suit by raising their prices to match the new rates.
No one bothers to ask this small click how it comes up with such wild exchange rates on a daily basis.
These criminals will not obviously answer tough questions on what economic fundamentals they consider to come up with such astonishing rates.
This is because these are people simply driven by greed and the desire to make profits through illegally dealing in forex.
But they are in a business that poses danger to the country’s economy, and they cannot be tolerated any longer.
We cannot be said to have surrendered our fate to such few greedy individuals who unilaterally take matters of importance into their own hands.
Government should just make it impossible for the illegal foreign currency traders to operate, either in the open or clandestinely.
The authorities have every right to come down hard on these criminals who costing the country dearly.
It should just be known to everyone that dealing in foreign currency is a no-go area because of the consequences that come with being caught.
We call upon the responsible authorities to be more robust in their response to ensure that those who still harbour the intention to continue in illegal foreign currency dealing know that they face a heavy price.
It is surprising that despite so many laws against illegal foreign currency dealers being put in place, we still have areas around Simon Muzenda bus rank and Roadport in Harare, and many others in the capital and other cities and growth points, being a hive of activity with people trading in foreign currency on the black market.
We all know very well that these are the people responsible for setting the out-of-this-world exchange rates that do not reflect the economic fundamentals because of their desire to get rich quickly.
The efforts by the Government to deal with the criminals who are manipulating the foreign currency exchange rate for their individual benefit are most welcome, but they remain good on paper if they are not enforced with the necessary force required.
This is why we welcome the gazetting of new rules on Friday, which also empower the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to arrest and fine people and businesses that continue charging their goods and services in any currency other than the Zimdollar.
Under the new regulations, the central bank can charge an extra fine of $100 per day for delays in payment of the $6 000 initial fine, but when one defaults for more than 90 days, the person will be jailed.
The Government has since made it clear that it has done away with the multiple currency system after amending the Exchange Control Act to include provisions of Exclusive Use of the Zimbabwe Dollar Regulations.
Those who charge their goods and services in foreign currency are just as good as those who exchange foreign currency on the black market at a premium.
Every right-minded Zimbabwean remains hopeful that once the war against these criminals is won, normalcy will return to the economy and prices will normalise.
The distortions caused by those dealing in foreign currency are just too much, and have become part of the problems haunting economic recovery efforts.
It should now be clear to everyone that the use foreign currency, either exchanging it or when charging goods, is now an illegal act which attracts a tough reaction from the authorities.
We cannot continue treating economic saboteurs with kid gloves in the name of pursuing their rights.
These criminals should know that they lose their claim to all the other rights once they start engaging in activities that endanger the good of the nation.
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