Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
THE decision by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to freeze accounts of companies suspected to have been involved in the manipulation of the local currency last week, has been hailed as a bold move by industrialists and economists.
Some industrialists told The Herald yesterday that as the local currency lost value against the United States dollar last week, they contemplated suspending operations.
The RBZ’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) moved in to freeze Sakunda Holdings, Spartan Security and Croco Motors’ accounts on suspicion they were behind the sky-rocketing parallel market rates for foreign currency.
The rates went up to US$1:$25, from previous averages of US$1:$14.
President Mnangagwa has since indicated that Government played “smarter” to thwart the runaway exchange rate, which had seen prices spiking to unprecedented levels.
Securico Security Services managing director Dr Divine Ndhlukula told The Herald yesterday that the intervention by the RBZ was commendable as it brought sanity in the market.
“If the companies that have accounts that were frozen by the RBZ are the ones that were causing chaos on the market, then I want to salute the RBZ for that,” said Dr Ndhlukula, a recent past president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC).
“What happened last week is something else, it was chaotic. I have never seen anything like that before. Imagine, at some point last week I considered suspending operations because the environment was no longer conducive.
“I am just happy that the RBZ moved in quickly, that is, if the companies are the ones that were responsible. If the accounts are the ones that caused chaos, then they must be closed as this will bring confidence onto the market.”
Another industrialist and immediate past president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) Mr Sifelani Jabangwe also applauded the RBZ for acting on the suspected companies.
“The (forex) rates move when there is a large amount of money put in circulation. As industrialists we lost a lot of value during the period when rates were going up under unclear circumstances,” said Mr Jabangwe.
“I am happy though that once the companies had their accounts frozen, the rate recovered. So it showed the source of the money that was pushing up rates.
“The Government should now go full course to establish how they got the money. If Government has managed to identify the problem, they should now solve it.”
Economist Mr Kipson Gundani said it was important for the RBZ, as the custodians of the banking sector, to manage illicit transactions and nip them in the bud.
University of Zimbabwe economics lecturer Mr Edgar Muhoyi echoed the same sentiments.
“Responsible authorities should always be wake on duty. Every time they sleep, the economy burns,” said Mr Muhoyi.
Efforts to get a comment from the director of the RBZ’s Financial Intelligence Unit Mr Mirirai Chiremba on the status of the accounts were fruitless as he repeatedly said he was in a meeting, but promised to return The Herald’s calls.
RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya has called for the stability of the foreign currency exchange rate to ensure fair prices of goods and services.