By Kenneth Matimaire
Traders at the city’s busy Sakubva Flea Market who welcomed the introduction of bond notes are already singing a different tune just two weeks after the country’s “surrogate” currency started circulating.
The informal traders lament that they are slowly losing faith in the new currency as it has been posing a myriad challenges towards their business, which is solely hinged on imported wares.
The flea market traders import various wares from neighbouring Mozambique, mostly second hand clothes and shoes.
The shabby but busy vast vending area in the populous suburb of Sakubva, boasts of approximately 1,000 informal traders operating there.
The minimum traders import goods worth $150 while others purchase wares of up to $5,000.
However, the once thriving source of income for most of the unemployed folk in Mutare is faced with an imminent threat posed by bond notes.
Traders who spoke to Radio VOP lamented that they can’t use bond notes in their possession to import their wares, since the surrogate currency can only be used within the country’s borders.
“I have around $150 in bond notes which I was supposed to use together with the American dollars to purchase some goods in Mozambique. I purchase goods worth $1,200 after every two or three weeks. But I can’t do that now as I have to scale a bit downwards to $1,000,” said Richard Zimunya who sells second hand shoes at the crowded flea market.
Zimunya said he fears for the worst when more bond notes are released into the market.
Government has so far released $10 million in bond notes and is expected to gradually push a total of $200 million bond notes into circulation.
“Our fear is what will become of our business when government has released all the $200 million bond notes we hear are to be released. Right now we are already feeling the impact when there are just a few bond notes out there, what more when they are fully into circulation. It means we will be out of business,” he lamented.
Another affected trader, Tendai Murapa raised the same concerns.
Murapa said he used to buys goods worth $500 but has scaled down stocks to $450 in just two weeks.
He said chances are that the gap will widen as days unfold as more and more shoppers will be using bond notes.
“We have been talking with other vendors here and there is a great sense of fear. Bond notes stocks keep pilling here and we can’t use the money to buy more goods. Yes we have resolved to use it to pay for our table rentals, or change but it keeps circulating and we have seen that the volumes will increase as days pass,” he said.
Another senior trader Brian Murayirwa said the major challenge is that foreign currency dealers are reluctant to exchange bond notes against the American dollar.
Murayirwa further added that it becomes a challenge since the Mozambican Bureau de Change only cross rates US$ against Meticals.
“This is an unnecessary headache. Bond notes are going to kill our business. This business is supporting close to 1,000 breadwinners. Most of the people here were formerly employed by the major industries that closed and they had no choice but to come here to support their families. Yes we understand that government is trying to solve cash challenges in the country, but they are doing so at the expense of thousands of other families whose businesses are in jeopardy now,” said Murayirwa. Radio VOP