Zimbabwe will gazette a new law tomorrow under which illegal foreign currency dealers can be jailed for up to 10 years while those who cannot explain their wealth will have it confiscated.
According to the Sunday Mail, the new law will be passed under the Presidential Powers Act and will be valid for six months unless approved by Parliament.
The country was thrown into turmoil at the beginning of last month after the government announced new monetary and fiscal measures which saw the re-introduction of foreign currency accounts and a two percent tax on transactions of $10 up to $500 000.
Prices skyrocketed as the surrogate currency, the bond note, and the electronic dollar plunged against the United States dollar.
The Mnangagwa administration is reported to have gathered information on cash barons who were funding the illegal foreign currency dealers on the streets and they are said to include some ministers in Mnangagwa’s government as well as senior Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front officials.
None of the cash barons has so far been brought to book. It will be interesting to see if they will be arrested now that there is a law against those with unexplained wealth.
Central Bank governor John Mangudya said at the time one of the barons had pushed through $48 million into the illegal currency market.
According to Justice Permanent Secretary Virginia Mabuza the Unexplained Wealth Orders will give crime-fighting entities like the National Prosecution Authority, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the Zimbabwe Republic Police power to seize unexplained wealth.
“The President has invoked his powers so that law enforcement agents such as the police, the NPA and the ZACC have more teeth to compel suspects to explain their wealth. All those who fail to give satisfactory answers risk forfeiture of their assets or monies in their accounts,” she said.
“This instrument can be in place for six months. Within these six months, Parliament can use its powers to make the law permanent.”
Mnangagwa has said that illegal currency dealings are a threat to national security, but there are fears that new law could be used selectively as seems to be the case with former government ministers being arrested for abuse of office.
They all seem to have been associated with the G40 faction of ZANU-PF that was fighting to stop Mnangagwa from succeeding former President Robert Mugabe.