Foreign Currency

Zimbabwe unleashes police, intelligence services on people rejecting new ZiG currency

Banknotes of the new national currency Zimbabwe Gold, ZiG for short, are presented at a press conference of the Central Bank of Zimbabwe. (Columbus Mavhunga/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Banknotes of the new national currency Zimbabwe Gold, ZiG for short, are presented at a press conference of the Central Bank of Zimbabwe. (Columbus Mavhunga/picture alliance via Getty Images)

  • Zimbabwe’s finance minister has enlisted war veterans to declare war on those who do not accept the country’s new currency.
  • State security apparatuses are on the lookout for illegal money traders in public.
  • A member of one of the elite ruling party political families was arrested on allegations of illegal money trading.

A month after the introduction of the gold-backed ZiG currency in Zimbabwe, the government has set up Gestapo-like surveillance mechanisms to catch those who reject the new money.

Addressing the country’s liberation veterans in Bulawayo on Saturday, Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube urged them to declare war on those alleged to be against the currency.

“You guys fought for the independence of this country, you should now fight for this new currency,” he said.

In recent years, war veterans have played a militant role in propping up the regime and enforcing its policies.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence Unit and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission are each running separate operations to enforce the acceptance of ZiG.

National police spokesperson assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi told the media so far, 224 alleged illegal foreign currency traders or money changers had been arrested, and 90 bank accounts frozen.

Last week, a transaction landed a teacher in jail on allegations of illegal money trading.

READ | Zim govt now wants mobile money services back – after blaming them for a currency crash

Albert Nyambara, 37, a primary school teacher, unsuspectingly offered his bank card to undercover police detectives to purchase groceries most in ZiG, but at a US dollar rate.

According to the police charge sheet, “accused person approaching the detectives who were pushing a trolley loaded with various groceries … on approaching detectives, the accused person indicated that he had some ZiG in Cabs Bank account and intended to swipe in exchange for US dollars at an offered rate of Zig14.11 per US$1 and in addition, he offered US$5 as a token of appreciation”.

He was followed outside the supermarket where he was arrested.

ALSO READ | Zimbabwe to fine those not using official ZiG rate

The news of such police operations have seen money changers switch to WhatsApp and refusing to deal with strangers.

To put people at ease, Nyathi said the police force was not operating inside supermarkets.

No sacred cows

Neville Mutsvangwa – the son of Women’s Affairs Minister Monica Mutsvangwa and her husband, former presidential advisor Chris Mutsvangwa – was arrested on charges of illegally dealing in foreign currency, trading in cash, money laundering and illegal possession of a Starlink router and antenna.

Along with two friends, Elias Majachani and Simbarashe Tichingana, they were denied bail and are set to appear in court on 30 May.

However, Mutsvangwa’s parents claimed the arrest was politically motivated and linked to factional fights in the ruling Zanu-PF party.

The arrest has divided many with some arguing the courts were being harsh others, saying the law should not be selective.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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