Harare – Government has begun a crackdown on illegal money changers which it blames for fuelling the wild speculation of foreign exchange rates causing major commodity shortages across the country.
On Thursday, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) together with the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) began a crackdown in Harare’s central business district with some citizens complaining of harassment.
One witness, a photojournalist who requested not to be named, said he was beaten and nearly arrested because he was carrying a camera.
“I was at Roadport bus station and I was intending to hand over a camera to someone planning on going to South Africa, a police officer who was not in uniform attacked me, accusing me of taking pictures during their operation. I was then beaten and told that I was under arrest,” he said.
He said they would not tell him under what charges he was arrested.
“They would not tell the offense I had committed but later on they released me after I produced a press card and the officer who attacked me had already gone. They refused to identify him. All I was told is that he is from CID Law and order department,” he said.
He said the police had begun arbitrarily arresting and chasing citizens simply because of their proximity to known areas of black market transactions.
“They started to chase people away and I then asked what was happening and why would they are chasing people walking in the streets, that is when I got into trouble,” he said.
The ZRP and CID blitz is part of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s efforts to curtail parallel market activities which have drastically devalued Zimbabwe’s domestic currency, the bond note.
In a Sunday Mail article, Mnangagwa said “a bold response” was required to stop what he described as the “nefarious activities” of the black market.
“To that end, this problem is now being treated as a serious security threat which requires a different response so that we get back to clean, productive and disciplined economic activity operating within norms and rules of the market,” Mnangagwa said.