Overburdened workers in Zimbabwe’s second city, Bulawayo, have cried out to the inclusive government to put a fixed exchange rate following a rapid fluctuation of the United States dollar to the South African Rand.
Shops and supermarkets in the second city prefer the Rand against other currencies like the US $ and the Botswana pula.
However, the fluctuation of the US $ to South Africa Rand exchange rate in Bulawayo on a weekly basis has seen many workers failing to buy most basics, a situation that has sparked an outcry.
Shops and supermarkets in Bulawayo last week were saying US$10 traded at 85 Rand, down from 90 rand and 100 Rand.
“At this rate, the money changers will quickly find their way back to business. I now cannot afford to buy the same basics that I bought last month because of this exchange rate,” said Sibuyile Nyoni from Entumbane.
A civil servant who earns US$100 is left with 850 Rand yet in April the monthly salary was worth 1000 rands.
According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, a family of five requires US$427 to survive in a month. In other cities the figure is about 4270 rand but in Bulawayo it is worth R3570.
Belinda Shoko added: “Why is it that it is only in Bulawayo where the US $ is said to be losing value against the rand?
“There should be a fixed exchange rate to protect workers against profiteering shops and supermarkets who still suffer from the Zimbabwe dollar hangover.”
The country adopted stable multiple foreign currencies after dumping the hyper-inflated local unit.
The government says the Zimbabwe dollar that was made worthless by ravaging inflation remains suspended for a period exceeding a year.
Prices that were priced beyond reach at the height of the Zimbabwe dollar crisis are falling but are however on an upward trend in Bulawayo because of the fluctuation of the US $ to the rand as a result of various distortions to the exchange rate.
Comfort Muchekeza, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) spokesperson, urged consumers to “boycott shops and supermarkets devaluing the US $ to the rand, saying “this is the only way sanity can prevail”.
“The only way to deal with these profiteers is to boycott such shops and supermarkets,” Muchekeza said.
However, Obert Sibanda of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) defended shops and supermarkets that are devaluing the US $ against the SA rand, saying they are employing a realistic exchange rate.
“Businesses are being realistic in Bulawayo. Businesses in other cities are using a false US$ to SA rand exchange rate. The rand is firming and businesses in Bulawayo are responding to the way the rand moves,” Sibanda said on Thursday.