THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) must immediately revert to the promised system of paying Homelink proceeds in foreign currency if the scheme is to survive, a parliamentary portfolio commit
tee on budget, finance and economic development has said.
Making a presentation during a three-day pre-budget seminar in Mutare, committee chairman and Mudzi member of parliament, Ray Kaukonde, said there was an urgent need to start disbursing Homelink proceeds in foreign currency.
He said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe auction system was fuelling the black market because of its static, unrealistic exchange rate.
Few, if any, people were using it anymore despite the huge amounts spent advertising it.
“The Homelink facility is good, but should revert to giving the funds from abroad in foreign currency,” said Kaukonde. “The current system of giving out money in Zimbabwean dollars is fuelling the parallel market.”
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono made a sudden policy about-turn when he ordered all money transfer agencies under the Homelink banner to pay recipients in local currency.
The move has seen people in the diasopra reverting to the more lucrative black market that flourished before the new monetary policy was announced by Gono in December last year. For all practical purposes, Homelink is dead.
Analysts say the foreign currency exchange rate being offered by the Reserve Bank is far too low to attract the diaspora market. People abroad are also concerned with the yawning gap between the central bank’s controlled exchange rate and that on the parallel market.
They said recent remarks by Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa that Zimbabweans abroad would not be allowed to vote were an own goal by a government eager to be seen as investor-friendly. Chinamasa last week said Zimbabweans who do not work at any of the country’s diplomatic missions would not be able to vote in the parliamentary election set for March next year.
On his recent visits to the United States and the United Kingdom to solicit for foreign currency, Gono was confronted by angry protestors who demanded the right to vote as one of the conditions for supporting the Homelink initiative.
The auction rate, which is the benchmark for the Homelink rate, has been stagnant since April. The fragile Zimdollar has been hovering around $5 616 against the US dollar. The slow business in Homelink seems to be also impacting on the foreign currency auctions floors, which have been battling to meet demand from the market.