Property owners and managers demanding rentals in foreign currency, without giving
tenants an option to pay the equivalent in local currency using the auction rate, risk being
arrested as the fight against economic sabotage intensifies, Prosecutor General Mr
Kumbirai Hodzi has warned
Concurring that the practice had grown partially because of lack of enforcement, he said enforcement would now be done with his office having already assigned necessary staff to work in teams with other agencies to clamp down on these practices.
Some landlords, while setting rents in foreign currency, are giving tenants an option of paying in local currency but at exchange rates close to the black-market rates.
Others simply force the tenants to buy foreign currency on the black market.
In both cases, tenants are in practice being forced to pay in foreign currency, in violation of the laws of the country that recognise the Zimbabwe dollar as legal tender.
Big names in the real estate business, in some cases, are the chief culprits in the enterprise, seen as doubly criminal since they usually pay tax in local currency despite having collected rent in US dollars.
In an interview, Mr Hodzi said such conduct borders on economic sabotage and the culprits will soon be arrested.
“That is economic sabotage. It is a violation of the law. Local currency is the legal tender and people must accept it in transactions.
“It is illegal to charge rent strictly in foreign currency and the law will take its course. No Government will allow such lawlessness.
“The perpetrators must be warned that action will be taken against them. It’s now a rampant problem which is abusive in nature.
“Most of the tenants were not reporting their landlords because they don’t want to cause friction. They are forced to pay under duress but we will come with a legal regime that will bring the lawlessness to an end,” said Mr Hodzi.