‘BUREUX DE Change driving financial inclusion’
By Wellington Zimbowa
32-year-old single mother, Mary (not real name)’s future in affording a roof for herself and bed stricken 3-year-old daughter suffering from a chronic condition-looked bleak.
A young graduate from a local university doing office work with one of Harare’s Small to Medium Enterprises earns around RTGS$ 12 000 per month.
And she needs US$40 for her monthly one room rentals in Glen Norah, a high density suburb in the capital, while for the monthly transport bill she may need something equivalent to US$28.
This is despite authorities criminalising rental payments in forex without landlords giving their tenants options to opt for local currency, at the official rate as publicly said recently by prosecutor-general Charles Hodzi.
In line with Government’s drive to ease currency blues in sync with Vision 2023 socio-economic agenda, the central bank in September opened the doors to the public to access forex at the official agencies for low value transactions such as medical and health needs.
“Life has since improved through these Bureaux de Change firms in Zimbabwe. Yes, queues are there and times you have to wake up as early as possible to make it on the line as many more people are seeing how relieving these firms are helping us.
“Going to the black-market is now a tough second option. Imagine getting US$50 at just around RTGS$ 4 500 per week,” said Mary.
Macsherp Bureau De Change proprietor Jimayi Muduvuri also commended the government and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for rescuing ordinary Zimbabweans and the civil servants who were being robbed day and night by the unscrupulous money dealers.
He, however, noted that although the initiative is being impactful in the financial inclusivity drive through the high number of satisfied customers and the decline of black-market forex activity, forex demand by clients at the official avenues was high.
“As Macsherp Bureau we say to the Government of Zimbabwe, banking industry, RBZ; keep it up, the work you are doing. People are happy just getting US$50 per week. It’s a lot of money to civil servants and the general public and as Macsherp, we say to the Government of Zimbabwe keep it up now Zimbabwe is moving all those who were busy selling money their days are numbered, as RBZ is saying no to foreign currency dealers, no to black market because of the US$50 foreign currency dealers are reducing into the streets because of US$50 per week.,” he said.
The Kadoma based businessman and Zimbabwe Amalgamated Churches Council (ZACC) patron highlighted the importance of adhering to the regulatory framework to ensure effective service to the public.
“As Macsherp Bureau we give the public all services with the guidance of RBZ.
“At present moment, we don’t have any challenges. RBZ is giving us weekly allocation, yes because of public demand, we are failing to meet the demand,“ he added.
Since September 9, the central bank’s Monetary Policy Commitment (MPC) has made it possible for the public to now access US$50 per week at registered Bureau de Change upon providing proof of identity.
Through RBZ’s intervention, the public have been buying foreign currency at the official exchange rate, around $86,21 plus a commission of just 10 percent at inception, which came to around $94,60 for US$1 against the black market rate of about $160 to the greenback then.
This week, the official market rate have average around RTGS $99 against the greenback compared to the black-market rate of about RTGs $180 against the United States dollar.
According to the RBZ, 74 bureau exchange were registered to carry out their operations in the country.
A survey by The BusinessConnect around Harare’s CBD established that more people are becoming confident of the bureau de change; hence, the continued swelling of numbers.
In various public interviews a number of client were happy after receiving their weekly US$50 ration, lauding government for incorporating the public.
“I am so happy with bureau de change rate, since despite the 10% commission rate they charge is almost half of what is taking place at the parallel market,” said one Rutendo Maungwa.
There has been rumours of corruption at the bureau de change, especially when security guards are allegedly cashing in on the high demand of the services, charging US$5 for one to skip the line.
Some bureau de change bosses have oftenly clashed with the law for allegedly abusing the facility with security guards being accused of charging US$5 for clients to skip the usually long queues.