Masarira Demands Financial Inclusion and Access to Foreign Currency

Masarira Demands Financial Inclusion and Access to Foreign Currency

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OPPOSITION political party leader Linda Masarira has asked the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to alleviate the current acute foreign currency shortages and help enhance the public’s access to it.

In application filed at the High Court on Wednesday 19 June 2024 by her lawyer Obey Shava of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Masarira protested against the pervasive practice of quoting and selling goods and services exclusively in foreign currency particularly the United States of American dollars.

Masarira asked the High Court to declare the practice of levying goods and services exclusively in foreign currency to be a violation of people’s right to the protection and benefit of the law.

Masarira, the leader of Labour, Economists and African Democrats (LEAD) political party, charged that despite the existence of the multi-currency regime, which has been operating since 2009 and which was reinstated by Statutory Instrument 218 of 2023 being the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) (Amendment of Exchange Control Act) Regulations, 2023 to last until December 2030, the majority of domestic transactions in the country is being conducted in United States of American dollars, which has contributed to its scarcity on the market.

Fuel retailers, she said, are selling fuel exclusively in United States of American dollars while some goods and services such as payment of passport fees, are being levied exclusively in foreign currency.

Masarira argued that the current legal framework in respect of the trading of foreign currency, infringes upon people’s right to access foreign currency.

She reasoned that the current legal framework places people, who do not have easy access to foreign currency, into a precarious position as goods and services exclusively priced in foreign currency are effectively out of reach owing to the shortage of currency circulation in the market.

She stated that it is worrying that only a handful of some elite and privileged people could purchase foreign currency at the auction system launched in 2020 as there was no provision for ordinary citizens to purchase foreign currency.

Masarira argued that currently the RBZ prioritises access to foreign currency by importers with verifiable foreign invoices with little consideration being given to people who require smaller amounts of foreign currency for everyday purchases.

The LEAD political party leader wants the High Court to order the RBZ to declare that the existing regulatory framework is overly restrictive and unlawfully hinders people from having access to foreign currency and to order the central bank to facilitate easy and formal access to foreign currency by the public.

Masarira also wants the High Court to order the central bank to expand willing buyer-willing seller trading arrangement to permit herself and the general public to access foreign currency through banks and bureaux de change within 30 days of the granting of the court order.

She also wants the RBZ to be ordered to expand the Operational Guidelines for Authorised Dealers with Limited Authority-Money Transfer Agency and Bureaux de Change to permit herself and the general public to access foreign currency through banks and bureaux de change within 30 days of the granting of the court order.

The RBZ, Masarira says, should be ordered to adopt measures such as collaboration with mobile money operators and mobile money agents to enhance the seamless accessibility of foreign currency by the public within 30 days of the granting of the court order while enterprises and service providers in Zimbabwe must be compelled to provide dual pricing for all their products and services and allow people to purchase commodities in the currency of their choice.

ENDS

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