Zvamaida Murwira in NEW YORK, USA
Government last Friday outsmarted some individuals and entities that were behind the sharp rise in foreign exchange rates, a development that has seen the United States dollar falling against the local unit, President Mnangagwa has said.
He said the Zimbabwean dollar, which was introduced as a mono-currency in June this year, performed well in its initial stages only to face wanton assault by some elements in the economy which saw the exchange rates inexplicably rising, thereby causing a price spiral in goods and services.
President Mnangagwa said this here on Saturday evening while briefing Zanu-PF supporters from North America on political and economic developments back home during an interactive meeting.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is attending the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Although President Mnangagwa did not go into detail on the actual measures, there were reports of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) freezing the accounts of four prominent companies.
There were also rumours that the RBZ Financial Intelligence Unit had cracked the whip on bureaux de change thought to be fuelling the runaway exchange rate.
“On the monetary side, yes, we have introduced one currency,” said President Mnangagwa. “For the first six weeks it remained stable, but then our people are intelligent. We have people who found ways to fight that (stability of the currency) and undermine it, but yesterday (Friday) we also became smarter than them and so we took some action.
“We have now arrested the galloping rate which was galloping from about eight, within few days it had gone up 10, and 20, by the time we left it had gone down and I think today it is about 14.”
The meeting was attended by Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube, RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya and Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo.
President Mnangagwa said his Government would continue to fight corruption, which he said had taken root.
“Corruption had taken root in Zimbabwe and I think it had become very difficult to fight it, so we needed to be very drastic about it,” he said. “The first thing was to dissolve the Anti-Corruption Commission that was there which needed to be also investigated by another commission, but instead of doing that we just had to remove it and we appointed a new ZACC.
“We asked the judiciary to bring a strong and resolute judge and Chief Justice (Luke Malaba) recommended Justice (Loice) Matanda-Moyo. The group of commissioners is a terror to the corrupt and I am very happy with that and it is receiving my full support. We gave them teeth.
“The former commission had no arresting powers which these ones have. What we have not yet achieved is the question of conviction. This has been because we have brilliant lawyers, they are able to cause postponements and find ways of postponing.
‘We are now looking at ways of stopping these so that cases are able to be concluded within a certain period through legislation.”
President Mnangagwa said Treasury will continue to levy the two percent transaction tax, saying the High Court judgment setting aside the Statutory Instrument that gave legal effect to the collection of the tax had been overtaken by events.
“Academically, they won the case, but factually they lost the case because we were clever enough,” he said. “When they went to court they said it was introduced under a Statutory Instrument, but when the Minister of Finance put his Finance Act, we tucked in the provision and it went through Parliament and is now an Act of Parliament.
“It cannot be overruled by a judge sitting alone. So, it is now law and the minister will continue collecting the money.”
Prof Ncube introduced the two percent transaction tax in his Transition Stabilisation Programme, which is part of Government drive to turn around the economy.
President Mnangagwa said Government was set to unveil about 1 700 buses to mitigate transport challenges being faced by commuters.
“As a result of our economic situation, the private sector had become so cruel that they were taxing our working community when they come to work and we decided as Government to intervene and bring in buses,” he said.
“We intend to buy up to 1 700 buses. We have contracts for 500 buses from Belarus, 1 000 from China and 200 from South Africa. Instead of paying $4 or so you pay 50 cents. We will continue to release them. Some have already arrived.”