Yesterday social media was full of an image showing two Baker’s Inn receipts juxtaposed. One showed the picture of a sale in USD and another in ZWL. The receipts were for the sale of Baker’s Inn’s famous chips and sausage order. The implied rate showed by those two receipts showed that Bakers Inn was using a rate of 200 ZWL :1 USD. That had tongues wagging and the RBZ was forced to announce that they would be investigating the issue. The truth though is that it’s not just Simbisa. A lot of organisations are now using implied rates that are much higher than the current black market rate of $170 ZWL: 1 USD.
Some of these businesses do operate in plain sight. Take for example the Financial Gazette:
The Financial Gazette for example sells for about $500 ZWL or US$2 on the streets of Harare. These are official prices. This means that the implied rate being used here is $250 ZWL for US$1. No one seems to be complaining about this or questioning this. A lot of pharmacies we surveyed recently were using rates of $190 ZWL : 1 USD when selling their medicine. Most expressed the fact that they had to stay ahead of the rate if they had any hope of being able to restock. While dealers were asking for $170 when you bought USD on the streets the pharmacies had to contend with transaction expenses and the risk that the rate could change before they converted their ZWL to USD.
A lot of supermarkets are using rates of around $180 ZWL :$US1. You see most retailers now have online stores from which they sell to diaspora clients exclusively in USD. We sometimes take the prices in these online shops and compare them to ZWL prices we see on the shelves. These calculations allow us to see the real rate they are using when they come up with their prices. Shops like Food World and Trade Center are using a rate of 150 ZWL when customers pay for ZWL priced goods using USD.
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