The parallel market rate can be tamed

by | Nov 24, 2021 | Business | 0 comments


Nevanji Munyaradzi Chiondegwa

The country has for long been beset by the parallel market, the price benchmarking that follows it and inflation.

Until recently, inflation has been managed with prices being stead, however we have seen that there has been shifts which have reduced people`s disposable incomes.

What has obeyed basic economics fundamentals seems to be the parallel market for foreign currency, colloquially referred to as the Black market rate.

The authorities have long battled black market, with both Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube and Reserve Bank Governor Dr John Mangudya at one time admitting to be trying to figure out what was causing the black market to rate to rise like that.

The two learned gentlemen, experts in economics who are internationally respected, should at least have found out that a black market indicates two things, shortage and control.

However, above all, the “true” or “real” price of any product is the black market price.

That is the price determined by the market not dictated to the market by the authorities.

There is no escaping these basic fundamentals.


The Economics and financial geniuses at New Government Complex and the monetary wizards at the Apex Bank have been doing their best but they are somehow missing these basic fundamentals.

They are looking for a convergence of the official rate and the black market but it seems not possible because the economic fundamentals are not being obeyed.

Basic rules of demand and supply. If the demand is high and the supply is low, then the price is high. If the supply is high and the demand is low, the price falls.

But when the demand is high and the supply is high, then there is an equilibrium in the market leading to a convergence.

To effectively kill, lower or destroy a black market, you have to end the shortages that have caused the black market in the first place.

So what is short in Zimbabwe is foreign currency, that is United States Dollars and/or Gold reserves to back up the procurement of the USD foreign currency which is otherwise a fiat currency.

Because of the shortage, Zimbabweans, the majority of whom transact or are forced to transact in USD resort to the black market to get the scarce commodity.


USDs are freely and readily available on the black market for purchase by the general public or by corporates.

The reason for the ready availability is the lack of control on the black market and the stringent control on the official market.

Though records show that there are more USDs in the formal system than on the parallel market, the black market is a willing buyer willing seller environment , therefore a market.

The players as already indicated includes individuals but corporates are the biggest players on the black market using agents and middlemen mostly bank tellers.

It is corporates that are cash flush with RTGS and can afford to pay top dollar to access the forex needs.

Zimbabwe has tried to deal with the black market, but in doing so ignored it has also ignored other basics.

There is never a ceteris paribas in the Economy or on the market and there ignoring one set of fundamentals while fixing the other is to kill the solution in the long run.

To deal decisively with Zimbabwe’s foreign currency shortages at the launch of the Foreign Currency Auction System, there should have been on offer far more export incentives to boost exports and of course there should have been a robust import substitution drive.

Exports earn us forex therefore boosting our foreign currency reserves ensuring availability for our own needs. While import substitution reduces our need to import and thus use the foreign currency we have.

This was not done.

Too much faith was pinned on the Foreign Currency Auction system as a panacea to solve forex shortages.

The auction system itself has received criticism from captains of Industry as controlled.

This has been denied by the authorities of course but the situation on the ground does seem to weigh in the favour of the captains of Industry.

Anything else would suggest a criminal collusion between the players on the auction.

If the collusion was the case, then the Financial Intelligence Unit under the RBZ would have picked it up by now.

Well, back to our story Foreign Currency Auctions the world over are temporary measures.

True to economic theory, the Auction system is beginning to implode.

The ball goes is back to the Exchequer or Finance Ministry and its sister Ministries like Industry and Commerce, Agriculture and Mining. These Ministries help in earning foreign currency or in its consumption.


The Finance Ministry was supposed to launch a massive export drive to bring in foreign currency while the Industry and Commerce was supposed to drive up production of exports while reducing imports.

The Mining and Agricultural sectors were also supposed to ramp up production, value addition and benefication to earn more foreign currency.

The solution lies in increasing exports such that we export more than we import.

We must produce more than we buy. Again we need to beneficiate our exports.

We are exporting raw chrome, platinum minerals group of ores, unprocessed tobacco, cotton, granite, etc. This results in our exports being of very low value.

That again goes back to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development at New Government Complex. They need to craft policies that effectively promote the value addition and cut down imports.

There was once of call by the President ED Mnangagwa to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce headed by Dr Sekai Nzenza to draw up a list of product or raw materials the country is importing.

This was to help in the crafting of an Import substitution Strategy.

We need to produce, make, grow the goods we are importing locally.


This will not only save us on the forex but will open up industries, create jobs, expand the tax band, lower prices of goods as the import substitution effect comes into play.

Again, this squarely falls under the Finance Ministry portfolio or the Economic-cluster Ministries.

So, the first solution is to eliminate the controls on the obtainability of foreign currency and let the market be the real determinant of the price of foreign currency.

However, letting the market determine the rate without coming up with other options to lower the demand for foreign currency and the dependency of corporates on it to import raw materials would be catastrophic.

The second solution is for us to produce locally and also increase our exports while reducing our imports.

In no time at all, an equilibrium will be reached and the rate will converge and the black market effectively killed.