Outrageous! The black market is not going anywhere you say. Well, there will always be a black market for something but I think the foreign currency black market will not survive this year. Somewhere along the way, it is just going to die.

Hear me out.

Here is why. Right now the government is adamant that they are not going to reverse their decision to scrap the multi-currency system but that doesn’t mean much when even they have been constantly making exceptions for example hotels and Chicken Inn are allowed to take foreign currency. So are government agencies such as ZIMRA.

So even right now the Zimbabwean dollar is technically not the sole legal tender in this country as our beloved government will have us believe. We still have an un-acknowledged multicurrency system that is constantly being fed by remittances for the most part. Again here the government was worried and prudent enough to allow companies such as Mukuru to continue to pay recipients in foreign currency.

Also afraid of losing their few experienced employees to the diaspora a lot of companies are now paying their workforce in foreign currency. Expect that to continue as more and more companies start doing it. This is buoyed by the fact that when it comes to the foreign currency you have to use it or lose it in 30 days. So paying your workers is just sensible as you are going to lose the money anyway.

On the receiving side apart from sanctioned transactions a lot of traders openly accept foreign currency. They have figured out that the government is going to have a hard time enforcing the foreign currency ban. To be fair this problem exist in all struggling economies such as in Venezuela and Cuba where foreign currency transactions are banned. People are willing to take the risk.

The trauma of hyperinflation is still fresh in people’s minds after the 2008 debacle. Back then for the longest time, people accepted the government’s regulations and continued using a worthless currency while big bad traders “burned” their way to riches. Rumours abounded of how the RBZ itself and big wigs were making money by just printing it and trading it away on the black market vacuuming the USD in the process.

This time around no one wants to be the sucker and thanks to better communication platforms such as WhatsApp everyone is keenly aware of what is happening. Given this abundance of knowledge, arbitrage opportunities are going to continue to shrink.

Also, the greatest fiction peddled in political circles is that the GNU brought with it the multicurrency system. That is just a lie that people have come to accept as truth. If you recall back then by January of 2009 a lot of companies were already paying their employees in foreign currency under the table. Despite not being FOLIWARS, most entities were taking foreign currency payments.

What the GNU government did was to accept reality.

Exorbitant bank charges

Very few people are making deposits and these days people just hate banks which are not doing themselves any favours. Despite most people getting a pay hike in months, banks have constantly been adjusting their charges and monthly rates. This is naturally going to deter people from swiping whenever they can.

Mobile money which has been a godsend for the past year has become just as hated. Not just because of the charges but because of downtime and errors. Nothing sucks more than failing to purchase electricity or essentials right when you need them because some arrogant company decides to continue making mistakes because they don’t think much of you as a customer.

All these and other factors are going to see the black market die. No one will be willing to accept the Zimbabwean dollar no matter what the government says. There will simply be no market for it.

It might survive as a zombie

If it does survive it will be a pale shadow of its current thriving sale. More like the version that was there between 2009 and 2015. Most traders will be fighting for scraps such as cross rate trading between the US dollar and the Rand, Pula, Kwacha and Metical.


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