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Zim criminalises cash vending

Sep 29 2017 15:30
Malcom Sharara

Harare - The Zimbabwean government on Thursday gazetted regulations that criminalise cash vending without permission from the exchange control authority, and empower police to arrest money peddlers and seize whatever currency involved.
 
The new law comes at a time when Zimbabwean banks are struggling to meet withdrawal demands from their customers with some banks - including Nedbank-owned MBCA - putting withdrawal limits at $50 per week, subject to availability.
 
Illegal foreign currency dealers, however, seem to have a ready supply of both US dollars and the surrogacy currency, bond notes.
 
In a new gazette, President Robert Mugabe amended exchange control regulations and inserted a subsection that relates to dealing in currency. It enables authorised officers to seize any currency upon reasonable suspicion that its possessor is dealing in it unlawfully.
 
The regulations further stipulate that during investigations, any offence caused by breach of an order concerning the unlawful dealing in currency could result in a warrant for the seizure of property and the freezing of any banking account and the money it is credited with, if there is reasonable suspicion of unlawful dealings.
 
Another subsection stipulates that any person dealing in currency who is unable to produce a valid licence or permit to an authorised officer will be seen as contravening regulations.
 
Government said some of the measures are being put in place to end the four-tier pricing system, where prices for a single commodity differ depending on the mode of payment.  
 
Some retailers have different prices for customers depending on whether they use US dollar notes, bond notes, mobile money or electronic transfer.
 
Last weekend the country was plunged into chaos, with prices of basic commodities increasing threefold or more. In some outlets the price of a two-litre bottle of cooking oil, for example, increased to $9 from an average $3.
 
Customers embarked on panic buying and hoarding resulting in acute shortages of basic commodities and fuel, prompting government to craft the latest measures.

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zimbabwe  |  africa economy

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