BY SILAS NKALA
Plumtree Town Council has come under fire from cattle buyers for charging them exclusively in foreign currency during a recent auction for stray animals.
The sale was cancelled after most bidders objected to demands by the council for payments to be only in United States dollars or South African rands.
One of the prospective buyers, Norman Mpofu, said they were surprised when council officials declared during the sale that they were not taking any local currency for the stray cattle.
“This is the position which was communicated on September 25 at a stray cattle sale held at veterinary pens,” Mpofu said.
“When I questioned the legality of their stance, I was informed by Busani Ndiweni, a council official, that he was guided by a council resolution.
“As bidders, we rejected that illegal resolution. He then cancelled the sale to consult his superiors.
“The government continues to send mixed signals in terms of its monetary policies. Councillors are violating the law.
“The Zimbabwe dollar is a national currency, which is legal tender.
“It cannot be rejected by a government agency.
“Is this government aware of the implications of failure to have a clear policy on currency?
“If the council is allowed to violate the laws, the government should not cry foul when citizens follow suit and reject the bond money in their dealings.”
Mpofu said elsewhere they were told the Zimdollar was gaining stability and strengthening against the US$.
“At the auction system we were told the local currency brought sanity to the financial services sector,” he said.
“If it is true, why does the government not have confidence in their bond money? The government must be clear.
“If the bond money does not work just abandon it, not this arrangement that it is money for the poor while the privileged use the US dollar.”
Mpofu said councillors have to explain to residents why they want US dollars or SA rands only for stray cattle.
“The sale was supposed to be held on September 25 but shockingly I am getting, a message that those animals are now being taken to a regular cattle sale, which was not for the purpose of disposing lost and found property,” he said.
“Do they import these stray cattle hence the need for forex?
“[Finance minister] Mthuli Ncube should just dump the bond if it does not work than to pay civil servants money which is being rejected by your institutions.”
However, Plumtree Residents Association chairman Richard Khumalo defended council.
“The Zimdollar is still being used but they also allow you to pay in forex using the bank rate,” he said.
“As of now there are no accidents caused by stray cattle in our central business district as most of the time council gets rid of them.
“If seen they are collected and the owner made to pay a certain amount as penalty of letting them roam in town.”
Council chairperson Fanisani Dube said he was not well informed about the issues as it was administrative before referring Sunday Southern Eye to the local authorities CEO Davis Luthe.
Luthe also said he was not aware of the cattle sale as he was at a funeral.