Zimbabwe, many residents of the capital, Harare, say they're concerned about
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's decision to allow selected shops and retail
outlets to charge for items in foreign currency. But business operators say
they're delighted at the development, regardless of what consumers are going
through. Voice of America English to Africa reporter Safari Njema in Harare,
Zimbabwe, says that following the granting of foreign currency licenses to
selected supermarkets and retail outlets in the capital, shelves in those
stores are laden with scarce commodities. They include maize-meal, or
"mealie-meal", cooking oil, rice, flour, soap and toothpaste.
consumers are able to buy the items with forex, or foreign exchange, they've
obtained from trading on the parallel market or from friends and relatives
aren't so lucky. They shake their heads in disbelief and exit the shops empty
handed. A 50-year-old man from Warren Park, who introduced
himself only as Christopher, says the government has obviously lost touch with
the daily realities facing citizens. Waving his hands in anger, the father of
two says the outlook for the average Zimbabwean is bleak, "People are earning their
salaries in local currency. Which group are they trying to [serve]? We are
really surprised. For a [ruling party] which used to say 'We are the people's
party…," now they are dividing people."
His view is
echoed by 60-year-old Victor Chinogurei, who lives in Sunningdale. A self-employed builder, Chinogurei says people are battling to get
money for rent which is now charged in foreign currency. He explains that people who pay their rent in foreign currency should not have to raise even more forex to buy the basics. He also accuses
the government of adopting what he calls 'double standards.'
"The most surprising thing is that our government is always against the
Americans and the British, but those are the currencies that we are using in
the shops, so I don't know the rationale," he says.
Chakanetsa works at one of the big department stores located close to the city
center. He says consumers need to understand shop owners need to charge prices
that keep them in business, "It's not
like we want to use this currency but you must understand where we import we
are buying in forex and this is why we have pegged our products in forex. We
know it's a burden to the ordinary man but we have no choice."
Stokisi says as stores are increasingly allowed to sell products in foreign
currency, prices will drop because they will be competing for clients. He adds
they gross about five thousand US dollars daily. This situation, he says,
benefits the nation because a percentage of the money is paid to government in
argues it's better for goods to be available rather than having retailers
holding back stock.