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Zacc stalks 'forex' landlords

by Staff reporter
15 Mar 2020 at 08:53hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), working with the police has advised tenants to anonymously use their offices and police stations to report landlords who are demanding rentals in foreign currency as the body prepares to swoop on the culprits.

Most landlords across the country are demanding rentals in foreign currency for both residential and business properties. A survey by Sunday News revealed that the practice of charging rentals in foreign currency has spread to almost all towns and cities in the country.

In Bulawayo landlords in the high-density suburbs are charging 100 Rand for a room while some charge US$50 for a five-roomed house. In the low density suburbs landlords charge between US$200 and US$400 per month for a three-bedroomed house.

"In the eastern suburbs the charges vary depending on the type of surburb, location and state of the property," said an estate agent with offices along George Silundika Street. In Gweru houses in Mkoba are going for about US$100 per month.

Students from Midlands State University (MSU) who rent in Senga are made to pay US$50 per head and a landlord rakes in as much as US$500 for an average house in the high-density suburb.

"It depends on the landlord, some are charging US$50 while others are demanding US$20 per head," said a student from MSU.

In Gwanda, landlords prefer to charge in Rand and houses are pegged between R200 and R2 000 per month.

However, Zacc has reiterated the Government's stance that the foreign currency demands were illegal. Zacc spokesperson Mr John Makamure told Sunday News that while the monitoring of rental charges was not their primary mandate, they were, however, working with the police to ensure the implementation of Statutory Instrument 213 of 2019 which criminalises the charging in forex without seeking such a mandate from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

"What is happening is that we are working with the police in monitoring this therefore we encourage members of the public to either approach our officials or their nearest police station. As you might know Zacc and the police are more of one entity in fighting such corrupt elements, worse still when there is a specific law that criminalises such acts," said Mr Makamure.

Affirmative Action Group Matabeleland Chapter president Mr Reginald Shoko took a swipe at the landlords saying such people were not only bleeding the economy but were contributing to the suffering of Zimbabweans.

He said the fact that the landlords collected rentals in forex but subsequently were not remitting their taxes and rates in the same currencies was reason enough for them to be arrested and charged for corruption.

"We know that some people now think it is normal to demand rentals in forex but what monthly repairs do they do to their properties that require foreign currency, they don't pay rentals in forex, neither do they remit taxes in forex. Clearly these people are contributing to the country's economic meltdown because what they are doing is tantamount to money laundering," said Mr Shoko.

Bulawayo Real Estate managing director, Mr Michael Nekati said while it was illegal for landlords to charge their rentals in forex, they were faced with a situation where some were demanding such payment as a means of cushioning themselves from inflation.

"It is a difficult scenario because while you have the law that criminalises this practice, landlords come in and claim there is a problem of the runaway inflation hence I feel there is a need for relevant stakeholders to look into this and come up with a lasting solution," said Mr Nekati.

Source - sundaymail