AS Government intensifies efforts to close channels that are fuelling the black market and other illicit financial activities, it has emerged that some foreign nations and individuals have been trying to cause general paralysis in the country through manipulation of the market and sponsoring non-governmental organisations, trade unions and the opposition to lead demonstrations.

To curb illicit financial acts, Government has introduced a raft of measures that include suspending mobile money transfers except for receiving payments for goods and services.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) has also been suspended to allow investigations after Government found impeccable evidence of malpractices.

Apart from moving in to suspend some mobile money transfer platforms such as on EcoCash, which as of Sunday last week held $8 billion in 501 000 agent and merchant lines, Government has also put in place a raft of measures to protect the public from illegal activities that have caused inflation and consequent price increases.

Government has rolled out US denominated cushion allowances for civil servants, introduced cheaper public transport and kept subsidies on basics such as maize meal among a host of other interventions.

Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet (in charge of communications) Mr George Charamba said there is a political dimension to the current challenges as the country is facing a multi-pronged assault from some elements determined to turn the public against President Mnangagwa and the Second Republic.

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“There is a very strange coincidence that we have noticed over quite some months between the implosive politics within the opposition, self-implosive politics, and heightened illicit activity in the economy. You have that mayhem in the MDC whose sum effect is that of weakening the opposition in the country on the one and then you have increased below the law and out of the law activities in the economy.

“We have realised that there is a clear nexus between runaway market activities and runaway opposition politics, that more and more, the security threat to this country, the destabilisation to this country is finding expressing through the market, so there is heightened smuggling of gold, there is heightened transactions, there is release of precious foreign currency into the black market, all to create a generalised instability which have the effect of creating disenchantment on the part of the Government,” said Mr Charamba.

The MDC is presently consumed in serious power struggles due to the failure of its leaders to adhere to its own party rules and constitutionalism and with the opposition self-disemboweling, Mr Charamba said the country detractors and anti-Second Republic funders are now trying to use the market as a form of opposition against the Government.

“The politics are being shaped from the market, it is as if we are being told, if you won’t have MDC-Alliance for an opposition then we will create an opposition for you through illicit market activities, through illicit NGOs, through disgruntled unions and through embassies mostly so given to making anti-government statements, when you coalesce that you will realise that we are in a phase where destabilisation has assumed a market form. The calculation was a health sector led generalised public strike, we are aware of such plots,” said Mr Charamba.

Last week, the Government announced the suspension of phone-based mobile money transactions and trading on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) so as to allow for investigations into illegal dealings connected with the foreign currency black market and also to put in place reforms that restore mobile money platforms to their original purpose.

Government spokesperson Mr Nick Mangwana said in a statement last week that stern measures against mobile money systems because there is impeccable intelligence that made a prima facie case that mobile money systems, with the deliberate or inadvertent help of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE).

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Trading on the ZSE, which was generating fake exchange rates, in particular the Old Mutual Implied Rate that matches the prices paid for Old Mutual shares on the London, Johannesburg and Zimbabwean stock exchanges, has also been suspended as investigations are being carried out.

In a ZBC interview last night, Mr Mangwana noted that mobile money systems were under the communications regulator Portraz, not the RBZ, and so could not be monitored or audited.

Trading on the ZSE was generating fake exchange rates, in particular the Old Mutual Implied Rate that matches the prices paid for Old Mutual shares on the London, Johannesburg and Zimbabwean stock exchanges.

In the statement, Mr Mangwana said the Government now had impeccable intelligence that made a prima facie case that mobile money systems, with the deliberate or inadvertent help of the ZSE, were engaged in illicit activities sabotaging the economy.

Some of the activities by mobile payment systems, that have caused so much pain on the general public, include, illegal externalisation of foreign currency through transfer mispricing, fraudulently creating and issuing non-attributable and non-auditable agent cellphone lines and accounts.

Hiding irreconcilable accounts in suspense accounts that hold huge balances for unjustifiable long periods and engaging in rampant and unchecked tax evasion.-Herald

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