Industry and Commerce minister, Sithembiso Nyoni has accused informal retailers who exclusively transact in the United States dollar (USD) of creating a shadow economy at the expense of the public which earns in local currency.
On Monday, the minister toured wholesalers and tuck shops in downtown Harare and appeared surprised that all prices were pegged in the greenback.
Informal traders have often been accused of fuelling the black market. Currently the US$1 is trading against $5,668 on the official market but is at $7500 on the black market.
Nyoni pleaded with the retailers to use both the local and foreign currencies when transacting.
“We are here to prevent a shadow economy, everybody who is in business must operate openly, nobody must operate in the shadows so that we must all have one system that everyone understands. There are people where I have been who have no swipe machines, they only take USD and their shops are very big,” she said.
“This means that there are certain Zimbabweans who cannot access those shops because they are paid in zimdollar. We must value our own currency and we must try to use it with pride. What I have seen here is that there are some people who really are shunning those who are proud of their own currencies.
"I want to persuade everybody that our currency is the Zimbabwean dollar. Let us use both USD and the zimdollar. If we do not do that, that's where we have a currency for those who have USD's and those who have Zimdollar."
Speaking at the same occasion, Tuckshop Owners Association chairman, Chamunorwa Mukova highlighted that their operating environment made it ‘very difficult’ for them to accept the local currency since they need USD to pay rentals and buy stock.
- Mayhem as schools reject Zimdollar fees
- Forex demand continues to fall
- USD fees: Govt policy failure hurting parents
- Prices continue to skyrocket
“We want to use Zimdollar when transacting as prescribed by our country's laws but the problem is that when we accept the local currency in our shops it is very difficult for us to release it since our manufacturers do not accept it,” he said.
Most local manufacturers were also funneling their goods to the informal sector because of the exclusive US dollar trade, it was noted.
Nyoni also advised foreign nationals who were operating in the retail industry to abide by the country's laws.
"Retail is a reserved sector for Zimbabweans but we are not closing foreigners out, there is a threshold that they must comply with. If you are below that threshold you are breaking the laws of Zimbabwe," she said.
Foreigners from countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia, Mozambique, Zambia among others operate most tuckshops in the Harare CBD.