HARARE – The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) announced Wednesday that it had frozen the accounts of five companies as it battles to suppress illegal foreign currency trading on the parallel market.
The RBZ last Friday froze the accounts of four companies accused of fuelling parallel market trading and devastating the local currency which traded as low as 1:27 to the United States dollar.
The exchange rate on the parallel market stabilised at around 1:14 to the United States dollar over the weekend into Monday, almost converging with the interbank rate. But the Zimbabwe dollar quickened its decline again on Wednesday with the rate climbing to 1:19.
In a notice to banks, the RBZ said it was ordering a freeze on the accounts of Bill Height Investments, Landela Investments, Rimosa Trading, Fossil Agro and Traverze Travel.
Zanu PF MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena identified three of the companies – Landela Investments, Rimosa Trading and Fossil Agro – as being owned by petroleum tycoon, Kudakwashe Tagwirei.
Tagwirei, a benefactor of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF party whose Sakunda Holdings is the funder of the government’s controversial Command Agriculture programme, was on last week’s freeze list with Sakunda.
Traverze used to handle the government’s foreign travel bookings before the tender was awarded to East Town Holdings owned by Mary Chiwenga last year. Traverze is owned by Zodwa Mkandla.
President Mnangagwa had hailed the impact of last week’s accounts freeze, telling an audience in New York on September 21: “We have people who found ways to fight that (stability of the currency) and undermine it, but yesterday (Friday), we also became smarter than them and so we took some action.
“We have now arrested the galloping rate which was galloping from about eight, within few days it had gone up to 10, and 20. By the time we left, it had gone down and I think today it is about 14.”
Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank has denied that it had lifted the freeze on the accounts of Access Finance, Croco Motors, Spartan Security and Sakunda Holdings which were affected by the directive issued last week to facilitate a money laundering investigation.
Mirirai Chiremba, the RBZ’s Financial Intelligence Unit head, said in a statement Wednesday that the accounts remained frozen until the probe was done.
“We have become aware of false media reports suggesting that a directive has since been issued unfreezing some or all of the said accounts. We advise that the said accounts of the named entities in the directive remain frozen, pending finalisation of our analysis,” Chiremba said.
Spartan Security is owned by Tarisai Mnangagwa, a nephew of the president.