By Habakkuk Trust
Reports coming in from Habakkuk Trust Community Advocacy Action Teams in Matabeleland Province indicate that a significant number of shops are refusing to transact in local currency.
Shops in Umzingwane and Matobo Districts are reportedly refusing to accept payments in local currency, a move that has left some communities stranded. The deepening economic crisis characterized by hyperinflation has seen a surge in the prices of basic commodities countrywide. The prices increases have been attributed to the plummeting of the ZWL against the US Dollar. Currently, the local currency is trading at 1usd: 88ZWL on the parallel market.
Some shop owners at Mawabeni Business Centre in Umzingwane Ward 5 are allegedly refusing to take the ZWL, accepting the Rand and USD for transactions. Habakkuk Trust Community Advocacy Action Teams in the area have raised concerns over the issue. “This a worrying development especially considering that we are still on lockdown and most people are not working,” said one of the Habakkuk Trust Action Team member in the area.
In the meantime, community members in Matobo Ward 19 have lamented the unprofessional conduct displayed by shop owners as they are reportedly charging exorbitant prices to deter consumers from paying in local currency.
“Some products cost almost twice as much in local currency in order to force people to use the rand,” said Shakespear Ndlovu, a Habakkuk Trust Community Advocacy Action Team Convener in the Ward.
In Matobo Ward 11, shop owners are reportedly demanding forex for essential goods like mealie meal, sugar, cooking oil, and flour while accepting ZWL for smaller items like salt and matches.
In some parts of Nkayi District, it has been reported that shop owners are refusing $2 and $5 bond denominations alleging that they have since expired.
The Government’s inconsistency in the implementation of monetary measures coupled with placid enforcement efforts has been blamed for illicit trading practices prevalent in the retail sector. According to analysts, the move by Government to permit service stations to sell fuel in forex will accelerate the re-dollarisation of the Zimbabwean economy.
Habakkuk Trust implores the government of Zimbabwe through the Finance Ministry to enact measures to reduce illicit trade practices in the retail sector.