Mnangagwa set sights on illegal foreign currency dealers, touts and vendors

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa has set his sights on illegal currency trading, describing it and related illicit financial activities as a threat to national security.

In the first installment of his new weekly column that will be exclusively carried by The Sunday Mail starting today, President Mnangagwa said new measures would be employed to restore sanity.

It is also understood that President Mnangagwa last week summoned his security cluster and discussed the matter, paving way for the imminent arrests of high-profile figures who are suspected of masterminding black market activities.

In that meeting were Defence Minister Oppah Muchunguri-Kashiri, Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema, State Security Minister Owen Ncube and Director-General of the Central Intelligence Organisation Ambassador Isaac Moyo. Also present were Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda, and his deputy Mr George Charamba.

This followed a sudden spike in black market currency trading that saw the bond note trading as low as 1:6 to the US dollar at some point, a spike in prices of basic commodities at retail point, panic buying of fuel that resulted in long queues at service stations, and propagation of angst within the citizenry by opponents of President Mnangagwa’s Government with a view to sparking street protests.

Government’s contention that the currency, supply and price madness that gripped the country last week was driven by criminal shady business practices and political duplicity was validated by the sudden plunge in black market activities by Thursday evening.

Further, the supplies of fuel and basic commodities has firmed.

In his inaugural column in The Sunday Mail, President Mnangagwa says: “A great threat to our bid to stimulate productive activity in the economy comes by way of non-productive, speculative activities operating below the radar but involving millions in precious foreign currency and bond notes.

“These nefarious activities thrive on different electronic platforms. New measures will be pursued to stop such malpractices.

“I call on all of us to tread back into the real economy, away from the current practice where currencies become key commodities that transact in dark markets, controlled by shadowy figures.

“The costs and havoc this wreaks on the whole economy have become quite apparent and most unfortunate. A bold response is merited.

“To that end, this problem is now being treated as a serious security threat which requires a different response so that we get back to clean, productive and disciplined economic activity operating within norms and rules of the market.”

In addition to strategies that have been – and continue to be – rolled out to create an environment conducive for doing business, the State is also understood to be working on legal instruments to root out criminality as corruption had become entrenched in the prior administration. – Sunday Mail