Black market dragnet targets bigwigs
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa will invoke the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to introduce tough regulations to bring currency manipulators to book.
In his weekly The Sunday Mail column, the Head of State and Government said it was inconceivable that rampant black market activities were thriving without complicity of high-ranking State officials.
Information gathered so far, he said, indicated that “an intricate network of currency speculators mostly in high places and in places of trust”.
Further, a police spokesperson informed this publication that they had made arrests of illegal currency dealers who were linked to prominent people, and would soon make the findings of their investigations public.
In his column, President Mnangagwa said: “Considering that more than $9 billion is passing through different electronic platforms and leaving an ‘electronic trail’, it is inconceivable that these illicit transactions have and can ever go on undetected or unnoticed. It simply cannot be.”
Speculative activities, especially illegal foreign currency trading, have caused a marked depreciation of bond notes and RTGS balances against the United States dollar, triggering hikes in the prices of basic commodities, panic-buying and product shortages.
President Mnangagwa revealed he had tasked his top legal advisors to craft comprehensive legislation to plug loopholes that allowed black marketeers to operate with impunity.
“Currently, we have no legislation to deal with currency manipulators. We therefore need urgent and robust measures to deal with this financial menace.
“Accordingly, I have now instructed the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to work closely and expeditiously with the Attorney-General in order to produce a new set of regulations which will be promulgated under temporary law-making powers which I, as President, am allowed by the Constitution.
“These regulations will remain in force for a statutory period of six months, during which a Bill will have to be processed for consideration by our Legislators,” President Mnangagwa said.
The new law will be in line with international best practices, where suspicious transactions are automatically flagged and investigated.
Jurisdictions such as the United States also trace if such transactions are being taxed.
In a “cash-lite” economy like Zimbabwe’s, such a dragnet would quickly dredge speculators as most transactions are e-based. Yesterday, Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyati said they had made arrests in connection with illegal currency trading linked to bigwigs.
“We can confirm that we have made some arrests with regards to some of the prominent people who are behind the illegal currency deals.
“You are aware of the Government position to deal with such deals which are causing economic damage to the country. Very soon, we are going to release full details of some of these culprits and the nature of the crimes,” he said.
Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya added: “Some time at the end of last year we attempted to address it through a Statutory Instrument that we introduced, read together with the Exchange Control Act.”
Statutory Instrument 122A of 2017 empowers police to seize money from people suspected of illegal currency dealings.
Part of the SI reads: “In relation to any dealing in currency, an authorised officer or a police officer acting to enforce any order (a) may, for the purpose of holding the currency as an exhibit in a subsequent prosecution, seize any currency upon a reasonable suspicion that the possessor thereof is dealing in it unlawfully, that is, in contravention of any order or any provision of the Act or these regulations by virtue of which the order is made.”
Lawyer Mr Jonathan Samkange accused monetary authorities of sleeping on duty by failing to detect suspicious transactions.
“It is well within the mandate of the (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) to track all suspicious transactions, or at least watch over the banks so that they can follow up on such transactions.
“The law empowers them to have such oversight. It appears that they are not doing so and the question that has to be asked is why are they not?
“It’s the norm across the world for any huge transactions to be accounted for. For example, I have a daughter who is at university in a foreign country and whenever I pay fees for her, I have to justify such a transaction.
“If other countries can raise alarm on such transactions, why do our monetary authorities choose to remain quiet when millions of dollars are moved every day?” he questioned.
LAST Thursday, Dr Ibbo Mandaza’s Sapes Trust hosted Zenzele Ndlovu’s once-upon-a-time documentary. The Gukurahundi film took its tour to the capital after its premier in Bulawayo some weeks back.
With the proliferate liberties defining the character of the Second Republic under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, I see the documentary being taken to every corner of Zimbabwe.
In the not so wildest of anticipations, I foresee the documentary being screened by our national broadcaster. Yes, our own ZTV! You heard me right. Who in the wildest of our dreams ever thought that someday we would watch proceedings of a court contestation on a “rigged election”?
But on the 22nd of August it happened. And alas, Section 27 of Posa was repealed.
These are steps in the right direction as far as the State’s granting of liberties to citizens is concerned.
It’s a clear and pragmatic indication of a shift from narrow constructions of nationhood characterised by arresting civil liberties.
I deliberately mentioned Sapes Trust in the introduction of because a few years back no one would not dare host dialogue on Gukurahundi matter.
In 2010, Owen Maseko — a Bulawayo-based visual artist was incarcerated for his Gukurahundi Exhibition. Likewise, Bhekimusa Moyo had his Gukurahundi play suspended from a live showcase at the Gwanda Festival in 2015. Today we are waking up to a Government that affords Zimbabweans opportunity for retrospective surveillance under the auspices of the able National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).
As a happy indicator serenading this memory of the future, Zenzele Ndebele’s “Gukurahundi: 36 Years Later” attracted to its audience NPRC Chair Retired Justice Nare and some of his commissioners.
Of course, there are those who argue that the public showcase of this film should not be excessively accentuated as it is a normalcy and is not worth celebrating.
To the contrary, I argue that this is a hallmark achievement in our democratic growth, which President Mnangagwa has emphasised as part of his transformative agenda.
This serves as a measure President Mnangagwa’s fine statecraft as a democrat. This is not to say President Mnangagwa’s predecessor out-rightly failed to reconstruct the nation from the crisis that gave birth to Gukurahundi.
The Unity Accord of 1987 exonerates him as a nation builder who repented from a “moment of madness” and found rationale in reviving the creed of nationalism which was reignited in November 2017 when the people restored a legacy whose perpetuity was under siege.
The Second Republic is clearly exuding new light at the end of an arbitrary tunnel, and those taken captive by the iron fisted tyranny of old would concede that the time for progress is here.
Certainly there is now fertile ground for producing fresh ideas and redefining the future of a rebranded impetus to nationhood.
Our creative minds must be at the fore of angling that imagined reconstruction of the future under the recast leadership style and the new architecture of our democratic landscape.
This is firmly grounded on the idea of “the nation as an imagined community” which is professed to be the creative genius of men and women of letters.
Hence Hadebe (2018) revisits Huxley’s (1959:50) analysis of the relationship between literature and the nation: “Nations are to a very large extent invented by their poets and novelists.”
Writers “play a role that is confirming of the nation as a political or cultural entity, (emphasising) its uniqueness and its right to a state of its own”.
Understandably, Corse (1997:24) states that “national literatures have become essential characteristics of a nation-state”.
In addition to the positive potential contribution of literature to the nation (like identity creation, national consciousness, shared memory and loyalty), “literature can be used to deconstruct, or even subvert, a national project in favour of an alternative . . .” (Suleiman 2016:2)
The toxic nationalism of repressing and restricting access of “truth to power” should be stuck in our past and not in the future.
We need to navigate towards being genuinely post-colonial and the Government’s cordial receptiveness to dialogue on contested notions of power and nationhood is a characteristic of our imagined future.
In Homi Bhabha’s (1989) perspective, this provides a building block for re-membering — a process he articulates as “. . . putting together of the dismembered past to make sense of the trauma of the present”.
Having been a sovereign post-colonial state for close to four decades, were we dismembered?
In 2016, before anyone ever imagined that today we will be in a Second Republic, Professor Ngwabi Bhebe, Terence Mashingaidze & Gerald Mazarire diagnosed the fault lines of our national question:
“. . . achieving consensus on how communities should heal and reconcile seems difficult to achieve in most societies in transition.
“Often times, such societies confront a complex mixture of divergent political ideals, divided memories, conflict ethnic and political histories, contesting definitions of political harm and victimhood and legal loopholes . . .
“The intermingling of the aforementioned incongruent interests towards national healing frustrates the establishment of comprehensive national peace-building projects and all-inclusive state-making.”
In mirroring this past dividedness of a people and a nation, we need to go be guided by both positives and negatives of the past to learn and unlearn our course into the future.
One of the mistakes we made, as argued by Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni (2009), was to make a State instead of a nation and a people.
“. . . the national project is in no way a denial of the importance of African nationalism and the significance of the African national project itself.
“Far from it, the main purpose is to interrogate the often taken for granted question of the making of Africans in general, and Zimbabweans in particular, as a collectivity in pursuit of a political and cultural objective.”
Hence the need to depart from a nationalism that was selectively progressive.
In his prognosis, Ndlovu-Gatsheni solicits an ontological creation of a nation — not that which is commemorative and not inclusive, yet limited to narrow texts of propaganda decapitation of dissent.
On that note, Ndlovu-Gatsheni states that early constructions of memory building were meant “to problematise those issues taken for granted by ‘praise-texts’ in their interrogation of the complex historical and political processes of identity-making and formation”.
Ndlovu-Gatsheni, however, stresses that “. . . historians and journalists wedded into celebratory approaches simplistically saw the achievement of political independence as coterminous with the making of Africans as citizens. They forgot the common Italian nationalist message: ‘We have made Italy. Now We Must Make Italians.’”
The intrinsic faults in the ontology and epistemology of nationalism in the past have stagnated the dream of realising how we can reconstruct the past and reimagine the future.
This could be a time for us to take advantage of the new state sponsored liberties to create Zimbabweans.
Conclusively, Zimbabweans must now exist.
As long the Second Republic lives, the tribe, nepotism and partisan polarisation must die.
Current laws empower police to seize money from people suspected of illegal currency dealings.