Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa has defended the use of bond notes and added that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is investigating all banks as Government seeks to curb malpractices behind cash shortages.
In a ministerial statement on cash shortages and bank charges delivered in Parliament on Thursday, Minister Chinamasa said the investigations were meant to establish the source of new bond notes that are circulating in the streets.
He quashed claims by some sections of the media that his ministry and the RBZ were buying foreign currency on the streets.
“Relating to the pictures and videos of wads of bond notes which have been circulating on social media, investigations are being carried out to establish the sources of the new bond notes in the street. My Ministry and the RBZ do not participate in buying currency from the streets.
“You may be aware that Mrs Tariro Nyazema of Stanbic was caught red-handed, two or so months back with $30 000 that she had exchanged for bond notes at one of the bank’s branches.
“It is therefore our suspicion that this malpractice could be what is happening at other banks working in cahoots with unscrupulous traders and retailers,” said Minister Chinamasa.
He said the RBZ is investigating all banks and trying to apprehend culprits having wads of bond notes captured in video clips doing the rounds on social media.
The Finance Minister appealed to members of the public to report to the police if they come across people involved in illegal money changing deals.
“The investigations will be done in the same way that the RBZ managed to cause the arrest of Tinashe Sikwila, the driver who was circulating the bond coin invoice from the South African Mint.
“All of us should also be police officers. If we come across these practices, please report to the police, RBZ and the banks,” said Minister Chinamasa.
He said the RBZ was also in the process of making sure that artisanal gold miners who are paid in United States dollars, $5 million weekly, for their export incentive are not abusing the cash they are being paid by Fidelity Printers and Refiners and banks.
Minister Chinamasa insisted that bond notes had not failed, saying they helped boost production and exports.
“As to the allegation that bond notes have failed, I categorically state that this is not the case. Their issuance has helped boost production and exports besides providing a medium of exchange which cannot be externalised.
“The problem is basically low circulation of currency through lack of discipline and confidence. What is gravely required at this juncture is to enhance export productive capacity so as to increase exports,” said Minister Chinamasa.
The Government gazetted regulations that criminalise cash vending without permission from the exchange control authority and empowered police to arrest money peddlers and seize whatever currency is involved.
President Mugabe issued Statutory Instrument 122A of 2017 — Exchange Control (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (No 5) in an Extraordinary Government Gazette published on Thursday, to deal with widespread cash vending on the streets.
This comes after the Government realised that cash vending had become a catalytic agent to price madness. — @pamelashumba1