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Cross-border traders table policy proposal to Ncube

By Shamiso Dzingire

Cross-border traders have proposed a raft of measures to Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to stem the erosion of their profits due to the volatile exchange rates.

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube (File: AFP)
Zimbabwean Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube (File: AFP)

A significant number of Zimbabweans cross borders daily to engage in informal cross-border trade.

Their policy proposals to Ncube include payment of duty in foreign currency for foreigners, lifting of a ban on restrictions on imports of basic goods from South Africa and other measures to arrest the fluctuation of black market exchange rates and promote a banking culture.

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Zimbabwean cross-border traders are a cosmopolitan, footloose group of cultural and economic entrepreneurs. They are a highly-gendered group, as they comprise mostly women. Cross-border trade as an occupation has given rise to the image of a strong, independent and mobile class of women involved in long distance trans-border business.

The president of the Zimbabwe Cross-Border Traders Association Killer Zivhu said the fluctuations in the parallel exchange rates was drastically eroding profits realised by cross-border traders.

Among the blue paper proposals are measures for Zimbabweans bringing in goods worth more than $200 to declare at the border, and acquit how they left the country with the foreign currency they used to purchase the goods.

Most Zimbabweans are not banking their income, hence the need to produce evidence in the form of receipts.

“We don’t have a proper control of goods coming into the country. The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) just charges duty and does not bother to find out what channels the money left the country.

“We want everyone to put the money through proper channels. Traders can produce receipts from their Master Cards and Foreign Currency Accounts to account for the money.

“The use of Master Cards and Visa cards was suspended before because there was no forex. With the opening of nostro FCAs (foreign currency accounts), that will soon be a thing of the past.”

There is also a proposal that foreign nationals bringing in containers of goods and those engaged in the trade of second-hand cars must pay duty in foreign currency.

He said there is a propensity by some unscrupulous foreign nationals who are unregistered investors to purchase bond notes from illegal money changers.

“If they are unregistered investors, these foreign nationals must also declare with Zimra how they are going to take the capital they generate within our borders back to their countries.

“Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora must also pay duty in forex. When they come into the country, they burn their forex to acquire bond notes, which they then use to pay duty at the border.

“So, for example, if you are based in South Africa, you ought to pay duty in Rand. If they fail to pay duty in forex, their goods must be forfeited to discourage the smuggling of goods into the country.”

These measures, it is hoped, will increase the circulation of money as most people have resorted to hoarding currency.

“Money is no longer circulating. People keep their money at home and are no longer banking. Circulation of money is affecting everyone.

Some shops are demanding Rand and US$ in cash and the ordinary person cannot afford that,” he said Zivhu also proposed that the government temporarily suspend Statutory Instrument 64 (SI64) to allow members of the public to acquire basic commodities for the festive season which is fast approaching.

In 2016, the government introduced SI64 to limit the importation of goods into the country and boost industrial capacity utilisation.

“We are approaching December; SI64 restrictions must be scrapped for now because people cannot enjoy the festive season without the basic commodities. We also urge the government to release the money for those who have opened nostro accounts so that they are able to access their money whenever they want and government must desist from abusing those accounts,” he said. DailyNews