Zimbabwe halts stock trading, mobile money transfers
Zimbabwe’s stock exchange said it was suspending trading Monday following a weekend government order that the bourse and mobile money transfer agents temporarily halt business to allow for investigations into illegal forex dealing.
“Whilst we await guidance from our regulators on the operational modalities going forward, we notify out stakeholders that trading has been suspended until further notice,” Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) chief executive Justin Bgoni said in a statement on Sunday.
In a shock statement Friday night, the Information Ministry permanent secretary announced the immediate suspension of trade on the ZSE and mobile money transfer platforms.
Secretary Nick Mangwana blamed mobile money transfer platforms for causing a gap between the market exchange and official exchange rate.
At one point Zimbabwe’s currency traded at 100 to the US dollar compared to the official rate of 57 to the US dollar.
He said government was in “possession of impeccable intelligence … whereby mobile-based phone systems… are conspiring with the help of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange — either deliberately or inadvertently — in illicit activities that are sabotaging the economy.”
He singled out one service provider as “the central pivot of the galloping black market exchange rate therefore fuelling the incessant price hikes of goods and services that are bedevilling the economy and causing untold hardship to the people of Zimbabwe.”
Inflation in May stood at 785.55 percent, according to Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.
Last week the price of fuel went up by 152 percent after the central bank relaunched foreign currency auctions last held 16 years ago.
The price of bread has trebled in recent weeks while prices of other groceries have been going up by varying percentages.