The number of illegal foreign currency dealers in Bulawayo has of late ballooned with the deepening economic crisis, which has left many people in need of their illicit services.
Illegal forex dealers popularly known as Osiphatheleni have for a long time been confined to Fort Street, which over time earned the name ‘World Bank’, but of late, it is no longer the case.
Now at almost every street corner, one can just meet these daring forex dealers advertising their services.
Due to high demand for foreign currency in the face of an ever-weakening local currency, some people who are not necessarily forex dealers now pose as such in order to buy forex directly from customers at lower rates.
“Whenever I want Rand of US Dollar, I do not go directly to Osiphatheleni because they will sell to me at a higher price,” one civil servant told CITE.
“I have also learnt to also pose as a forex dealer on the streets looking for those who want to have their forex converted into local currency. That has helped me because I have managed to buy forex at lower rates for my own savings. With the salary that I am getting, unless I immediately convert into forex it can get wipe away before I even use it.”
New hot spots for forex dealers have emerged in the city such as the one between 10th and 11th Avenues along George Silundika Street.
The area has become a hive of activity where residents queue to have their foreign currency changed by these dealers who sit in cars to perform both cash and electronic transactions.
What is shocking is that all this is happening in full view of everyone and no action is being taken by authorities to stop it.
“This country will never be fixed, with all this happening,” CITE overhead a woman who was queuing to have her forex converted into local currency.
Economist, Stevenson Dlamini at the National University of Science and Technology, said the ballooning number of forex dealers was an indication there is an increase in demand for forex.
“It also means that business is also lucrative and it is no longer a cartel industry and anyone with excess money can get into it easily,” said Dlamini.
He said as long as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe continued to struggle with foreign currency reserves, the illegal forex dealers would continue to operate.