By Tendai Guvamombe
Foreign currency changers operating at various street points of Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) are reported to have remained operational despite the government intensifying clampdown on all illicit monetary dealings in the city.
The outbreak of cholera in some parts of Harare’s Suburbs prompted the government of Zimbabwe to issue a directive to prohibit vending activities in the capital. However, the operation has since extended to foreign currency dealers.
A survey conducted by this reporter in the city on Tuesday revealed that majority of foreign currency changers stationed at various street corners/points are a syndicate of some people in the government.
Edward Murehwa a money changer at Copacabana confirmed that it was too early for them to abandon their lucrative trade.
“The government issued an immediate end to our trade, but we cannot afford to quit our game because it is our only source of income”, he said.
The majority of monetary dealers on black market have established relations with law enforcement agents and some prominent figures. This has propelled the continuation of money changing game.
“We have been working with some big people and some are in positions of authority. Despite the ongoing man hunting on us in the streets by the police our area of work is always safe and we are guaranteed”, he added.
With the national economy continuing on a free fall path and subsequently heading towards 2008 doldrums have seen the number of money changers in the capital city on an increase.
Lucy, a school dropout and a money changer at 3rd street/Meikles area has developed ways of evading law enforcement agents and sometimes she escapes arrest through bribes.
“We have developed better ways of handling Municipal/ ZRP patrol officers who often takes bribe from us”, she said.
Government has suffered blame for instigating continuation of black market amid revelations it has a track record of acquiring foreign currency from a group of syndicates in the streets to fund national institutions.