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Forex black market chokes residents

by Staff reporter
06 Oct 2021 at 05:46hrs | Views
Bulawayo residents have said parallel market rates are chocking them as they cannot afford to pay rentals or make ends meet.

Parallel market rates have shot up to about $180 for US$1 in the streets, while the official rate is pegged at $88,55. This has caused prices of basic commodities to sky rocket beyond the reach of many.

Local currency earners are forced to buy forex on the black market at ridiculous rates to pay for most goods and services which gobble their salaries.

At supermarkets such as Greens, the rate is pegged at about $144:US$1. This is displayed on certain products such as Mazoe Orange Crush, which costs $448 or US$3,09 and R59,34.

Some pharmacies in Bulawayo are using US$1:$175. For instance, tablets to control high blood pressure and diabetes such as Enalapril, cost US$3 for a one-month course, but when paying in local currency, the price shoots up to $525. Using the official rate, the same pills should cost $262.

For those who pay rent, be it in the high or low-density suburbs or in the city centre, landlords demand payment in foreign currency. A room can cost US$30 in the high density while a full house can average US$350 in low density areas.

According to Ms Amanda Sithole, who lives in Highmount and is self-employed, the situation is dire.

"When you are employed, you realise that rent and other bills can be covered by your salary. But the rest in terms of food and all, you have to rely on your side hustles to cover with that.

"You are now totally off budget because most of your money is eroded by the rent and now you are left with almost nothing. Most of these groceries are quite pricey in RTGS and they are cheaper in US dollars. But now to access the US dollar you end up using half of your salary," said Ms Sithole.

Another Bulawayo resident, Mr Samuel Ncube from Nkulumane, said he was lucky that he is getting part of his salary in forex, but it is money going down the drain.

"The money that I use for rent is the forex that I get from my place of employment. But I look at this as pouring my money down the drain, because it could have been used for something else that's better than it all going to rent or even paying mortgage for a house, that'll be better. The rest in local currency pays the bills and buys food, but there are instances that I buy things using forex and I have to get it from the black market," said Mr Madida.

Mr Revelation Sibanda, who lives in Bradfield, said the situation was unsustainable and is considering moving to the high-density areas where accommodation is cheaper. "With basic salary, perhaps you will be earning around $35  000, which is not enough when you factor in rent which is around US$200 and food.

You are forced to move into the high-density areas, where you can get a full house at around US$120 and US$130. But still, this is a lot as from that money you will pay rent, food and transport, and nothing else," said Mr Sibanda.

Source - The Chronicle