It was just a year ago when Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube was at London’s Chatham House institute challenged by ZimEye’s Simba Chikanza on touching foreign currency accounts, and he promised British investors Zimbabwe will never raid nostro accounts. (watch video below). Today the very opposite is happening.VIDEOS LOADING BELOW
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will, starting today, be demanding written requests from people who earn in US dollars for them to withdraw their money while banks will also be ordered to convert all unutilised bank balances not withdrawn in one’s nostro foreign currency account within 30 days from day of deposit to local currency using prevailing interbank rates.
CHATHAM HOUSE ADDRESS:
This was revealed in a leaked FBC Bank instruction circular at the weekend, a development which has seen the central bank facing litigation for plotting to “raid” people’s foreign currency earnings.
RBZ governor John Mangudya at the weekend confirmed the new rules, saying the document would deal with funds from exporting companies.
There are also fears that the move by the Reserve Bank will see individuals preferring to keep their funds offshore.
MDC Vice President and Former Finance minister Tendai Biti has, however, blasted the move, describing it as illegal and in contravention of section 71 of the Constitution.
“Government and the RBZ cannot be experts in doing lawless things because all these are desperate actions by a desperate, despicable regime. You cannot have a government that generates the suffering of its people on a day to day basis,” Biti said.
“Besides, this issue is unlawful and unconstitutional because a salary is protected by section 71 of the Constitution and no one has a right to appropriate anyone’s salary as this will simply force companies and employees to relocate their accounts offshore to countries like Botswana, Zambia and South Africa.”
Section 71 of the Constitution speaks on property rights, which includes pensions, annuity, gratuity, and similar allowances, and it states that any person anywhere in Zimbabwe has a right to acquire, hold, occupy, use, transfer, hypothecate, lease or dispose of all forms of property, either individually or in association with others.
Biti added: “This is foolishness being done by government which is desperate for foreign currency and they are now trying to grab every dollar of forex. We are generating about US$5 billion from our exports and so the issue is that the money is being spent by thugs and crooks.
“The issue is how government is using the foreign currency. Actually, forex must be credited to the Consolidated Revenue Fund and Parliament must be the one to distribute foreign currency through the Appropriation Account.”
Last year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa released a long list of individuals and companies he said had externalised millions of funds to offshore destinations. However, noone was ever arrested.