Why is Zimbabwe harassing the small money-changers when it has a list if big fish with offshore accounts?


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Zimbabwe authorities must think that the population is daft. Following the panic over the exchange rate between the bond note and the United States dollar a week ago during which the bond note plummeted to 2:1, police clamped down on the illegal money changers.

It was not clear who the authorities wanted to impress or pacify, but which right thinking Zimbabwean would buy that story that illegal money changers with the wards of notes that they flagrantly flaunt about to attract customers would be holding $2 billion?

After all, according to Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa there is only $1 billion in circulation, with $200 million in bond notes and coins.

Yet, by his own admission Chinamasa says $1.8 billion was externalised in 2016.

The people that are toying around with the exchange rate are therefore not the small-fry that is being harassed by the police but the Big Fish who have access to cash. And they deal in big number.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe director of Exchange Control Morris Mpofu last year told the business sector that at one point they had monitored three foreign national withdrawing $3 000 a day for 30 days before getting out of the country with the money after bribing border post officials.

Mpofu, promised at the time, in May last year, that the Reserve Bank would investigate more than 200 Zimbabwean business executives who had been named in the Panama papers for operating offshore accounts.

While the list did not imply any criminality, the central bank was given somewhere to start as the list was comprehensive naming the directors and the companies they operated.

The Insider wrote to the central bank on 24 July inquiring how far the investigation had gone but has not received any response since except an acknowledgement that the inquiry had been received.

There was not response to the follow-up in August, either.

Below is the list of Zimbabweans published by the Panama papers.

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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