HOME Affairs deputy minister Obedingwa Mguni has called for the enactment of laws that criminalise the carrying around of large sums of money, to curtail cash shortages in the country.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU/NUNURAI JENA
Addressing Senators last Thursday, Mguni said: “The issue of money and Home Affairs do not go along. However, the Finance and Economic Development minister needs to come up with the relevant legislation to such an effect that there is particular amount that is set as not being allowed for one to carry around.’
“As I am saying right now, there is no law that says if one has $100 000 in their cars they should be arrested.
There is no such law in our nation. The only legislation that I know is available is that when one is crossing borders, a legislation that was brought up by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority states that if one is travelling from Zimbabwe to another country is not allowed to carry more than $10 000,” he said.
He was responding to a question on whether police officers were empowered to arrest people found carrying huge sums of money.
“However, within Zimbabwe, I guess we are allowed to carry even a million dollars because as the Mines and Mining Development minister was saying, they carry it in their suitcases. Even if the police come across it, if they ask him where he got it and he says he has a business and that is where he collected it from, the police have no power because there is no legislation that says that no one is allowed to carry a particular amount of money.
“This legislation should be set up so that the police can intervene and arrest people who carry large amounts of money,” he added.
Last week, the government gazetted a law criminalising illegal foreign currency trading, with offenders now facing a mandatory 10-year jail sentence if convicted.
Meanwhile, the eight illegal money traders rounded up in Chinhoyi in a police raid last week are reportedly back on the streets after they were charged for obstructing “free movement of people along the street/road” and fined $10 each.
The eight, who were picked up by plain clothes police officers paid the fines at Chinhoyi Central Police Station.
Speaking after paying the fine, the illegal money dealers vowed to continue with their cash vending activities as they were jobless.
“There are no jobs, how am I going to survive if I move out of the streets? The government should create proper jobs for us then we can leave this currency trading business,” an illegal money dealer who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
Chinhoyi-based financial expert Edmore Mazarura said the newly-promulgated Exchange Control Amendment Regulations (Statutory Instrument) law will not prevent currency trading but will fuel corruption as the dealers will simply bribe their way out.
“The law doesn’t prevent an offence to be committed, but only punishes. What these money changers are doing is what the government failed to do so it’s difficult to stop it because there is demand for that financial activity,” Mazarura said.
The law, gazetted last Thursday empowers police to arrest suspected cash dealers, confiscate the money and even freeze their bank accounts.
Convicted criminals also face jail terms of up to 10 years. Until last week, there was no law prohibiting people from trading in currency.