By Richard Muponde
Prosecutor-General, Mr Kumbirai Hodzi has said the State has gathered more evidence against economic saboteurs driving the spike in the exchange rate on the parallel market, in a development that will lead to more arrests and prosecution of the offenders.
Prosecution of the foreign currency violators will intensify this week, leading to presentation of evidence in the courts, while the compilation of the offenders’ dockets is almost complete.
The State’s Crack Team, dedicated to dealing with serious economic offences is handling the cases. In an interview with our Harare Bureau yesterday, Mr Hodzi said the State was tightening the screws against economic saboteurs.
“More arrests, court appearances and prosecutions of the accused persons and their entities are going on. The investigations have yielded credible evidence and the compilation of dockets in some cases is almost complete.
Prosecutions are going to be fast-tracked through the five teams that have been set up at Harare Magistrate Court.
Each team comprises a minimum of two or three seasoned prosecutors working with Investigators. Another Crack Team is being established in Bulawayo at the Tredgold Magistrate Court.”
Mr Hodzi said the blitz on currency violations, which started on October 7, is gathering momentum.
“So far 14 accused persons or directors of accused entities have been arrested. In all the cases the State has managed to establish prima facie cases against the accused persons. The total value of foreign currency involved in these cases runs into tens of millions.”
Mr Hodzi said the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and investigators were working through a National Interagency Taskforce which is operating around the clock with abundant resources allocated to the operation.
In a statement yesterday, the Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association (ZCBTA) secretary general, Mr Augustine Tawanda commended Government efforts to tame the exchange rate volatility which it said is being driven by corporate indiscipline, greediness and primitive capital accumulation on the part of industry and commerce.
He said the Ministry of Industry and Commerce should conduct value chain audit on exorbitant mark-ups of basic commodities and deploy inspectors to enforce compliance.
Mr Tawanda said the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement should protect agro-based value chains and urged the Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development to revisit the concepts of People’s Shops and organise direct access of good from local manufacturers respectively.
He, however, appealed to the Government to open up space for cross border traders to conduct business within the confines of Covid-19 protocols given that over 300 000 traders have lost their source of income.
In a statement on Thursday, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) urged authorities to work with business to implement solutions that are not heavy-handed, as the arrest of business leaders will destabilise the market.
The blitz on economic saboteurs was launched on 7 October, with authorities warning of more jail time for those caught in the net adding that the State will vigorously oppose bail for offenders who had become a security threat. The Sunday News