Operation Sunrise cars gobble $1,3 trillion

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) bought 320 new vehicles at a cost of US$5,184 million ($1,296 trillion at the current official exchange rate) to facilitate the marketing of the new bearer cheques introduced last week.


The RBZ

bought a fleet of Isuzu KB 2.50 LE double-cab trucks for use by its officials, the police and government agents involved in Operation Sunrise. Car dealers say these vehicles cost US$16 200 each.


The all-terrain pick-ups were assigned to provincial teams comprising a divisional manager from the central bank, a police chief inspector, a CIO operative, a Zimra officer, a member of the Zimbabwe National Army and a graduate from the National Youth Training centre as part of efforts to distribute new bearer cheques countrywide and collect the old ones.


Part of the fleet will be surrendered to the Zimbabwe Republic Police at the end of the exercise.


Sources say the central bank enlisted the services of the police in launching its blitz on old currency holders because it lacked capacity to implement the nationwide crackdown. Police were promised to retain 120 vehicles at the end of exercise.


“Initially the police were reluctant to cooperate citing lack of vehicles and fuel to cover the ground,” a source said. “But they were enticed by the pledge by the RBZ to donate part of the fleet.”


Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said he could not provide details on the issue.


“I cannot comment on anything concerning the matter. Please talk to Kumbirai Nhongo at the RBZ,” he said.


Efforts to contact Nhongo, the central bank’s public affairs executive, were fruitless as his mobile phone was unreachable.


In addition to the splurge on vehicles, last week this paper reported that the RBZ had spent an estimated $1 trillion bidding to harvest old bearer cheques from all corners of the country and to arraign those trying to repatriate huge sums of cash into the country.


The central bank is paying $40 million in transport and subsistence allowances to each of the 600 Zanu PF militia recruited to take part in the exercise as enforcers.


The Zimbabwe Independent also heard that the RBZ was paying its senior officials in charge of distributing the new bearer cheques across the country and bringing back old notes a daily allowances of $45 million each. The senior officials have been issued with new Isuzu trucks to carry out the exercise while more vehicles are being mobilised.


Central Mechanical and Equipment Department (Pvt) Ltd, a parastatal, was tasked with finding vehicles for hire to complement government and central bank fleets.


Officials at the CMED said owners of hired vehicles would be paid a rate of about $20 million per day for a vehicle and provided with fuel and all other lubricants needed to run a vehicle. — Staff Writers.

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