Cash leaks: Offenders deserve punishment

Efforts by fiscal and monetary authorities to get the economy back on its feet are quite evident in the market, although many challenges still confront us today.

The recently-announced National Budget and other interventions attest to the fact that Government is eager to improve the lives of its citizenry.

Granted, the journey to prosperity is arduous and challenges in the economy can hardly be solved in a day.

It has taken time and it might take a bit more before we arrive in the land of milk and honey. Canaan is beckoning, but it will be one step at a time.

Decades-long recession can surely not be corrected in a year or two, but soon we will be out of the woods. But, this requires all hands on the deck.

It is against this background that we find it odd, shocking and highly unacceptable that we still have elements in our midst who choose a path of destroying where others are building.

A case in point is that of CBZ  Bank and Ecobank which, reports indicate,  are being used as conduits to fuel the illegal foreign currency market.

Some funds sponsoring illegal activities on the parallel market were found to have come from the two banks in cases investigated by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) last week. At a time when depositors were withdrawing $100 each at most, a few “privileged ones” were able to take out tens of thousands of bond notes which they chanelled to the parallel foreign currency market.

We are all too aware of the fact that half, if not three-quarters, of challenges in the economy emanate from the illegal foreign currency market where the bond note has lost immense value, triggering price increases and attendant problems.

Banks, by their nature, are engines for economic growth. They play an intermediary role in an economy, financing productive sectors and meeting other financial needs by individuals and institutions.

They also host critical savings, hence finding them on the wrong side of the law is not just morally wrong, but negatively affects economic activities.

Unfortunately, more banks may be complicit too, a sad development that needs to be dealt with decisively. We await the outcome of investigations by the central bank. Government is battling to transform the economy and take the nation to prosperity, but these efforts are being stifled by a few selfish and greedy individuals and institutions. All this at the expense of the majority who are trying to eke a living through honest means.

Of course, we are all too aware of the fact that many corporates and individuals are doing all they can, legal or otherwise, to make ends meet given the challenges that confront us today. But, for banks to be literally funding a market that is responsible for half of our economic challenges is a sad day for our country. This is inexcusable.

We applaud the central bank for acting expeditiously in identifying the culprits fuelling the parallel market and we await the results of thorough investigations.

The illegal foreign currency market was awash with the new notes and coins on the day they were released while banking halls were teeming with customers who were battling to access a mere $100 bond, hardly enough to buy cooking oil and mealie meal for a family of four.”

RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya on Thursday said the central bank would punish those banks involved in the shenanigans. We are watching!

Indeed, institutions and individuals alike need to refrain from activities that harm the economy.  Those that continue to derail efforts to revive the economy should face the full wrath of the law. Indications are that the economy is replete with people bent on enriching themselves at the expense of the rest of the nation. This is not sustainable and should not be allowed to persist one day longer.

President Mnangagwa spoke against such malpractices and has even made a passionate plea for sanity to prevail, many have not heeded his call, so, it is about time that those hard of hearing in this instance, be punished punitively. We owe it to ourselves and to posterity.