The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has arrested 478 illegal foreign currency dealers as the clampdown on currency trading intensifies.
Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said in a statement yesterday that Bulawayo had the highest number of arrests at 209, followed by Harare with 65.
“Thirty cases were sent to court and five were convicted. The rest are still pending,” said Snr Asst Comm Charamba in her statement seen by The Herald.
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said the police force would continue carrying out operations targeting foreign currency dealers to restore sanity in the market.
“People should refrain from engaging in these illicit dealings.”
In October, about 170 illegal foreign currency dealers were arrested countrywide as police intensified a campaign against trading of cash on the black market which was causing volatility in the prices of basic commodities.
Police said they launched the operation against the illegal currency traders because they posed a serious economic threat to the country.
Police are conducting the operation together with other relevant stakeholders.
This comes after the police noted that the activities of illegal foreign currency dealers posed a serious security and economic threat to the country. The operation is in line with Statutory Instrument 122A of 2017, Exchange Control (Amendment) Regulations, 2017 (No. 5), which criminalises trading in foreign currency.
The statutory instrument stipulates that illegal foreign currency dealers can be jailed for up to 10 years and their cash forfeited to the State.
The arrests also came as President Mnangagwa said he would invoke the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to introduce tougher regulations to bring currency manipulators to book.
Writing in his weekly column in The Sunday Mail, the Head of State and Government also suggested bigwigs could be involved, saying it was inconceivable that black market activities could be so rampant without the complicity of high-ranking State officials.
Speculative activities, especially illegal foreign currency trading, have caused a marked depreciation of bond notes and RTGS balances against the United States dollar, triggering hikes in the prices of basic commodities, panic-buying and product shortages.
President Mnangagwa revealed he had tasked his top legal advisors to craft comprehensive legislation to plug loopholes that allowed black marketeers to operate with impunity.