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Forex black market chokes residents

An illegal foreign currency trader counts notes at a local bus station in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, November 18, 2016. Picture taken November 18, 2016. To match Insight ZIMBABWE-MUGABE/ REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Bulawayo residents have said parallel market rates are chocking them as they cannot afford to pay rentals or make ends meet.

Parallel market rates have shot up to about $180 for US$1 in the streets, while the official rate is pegged at $88,55. This has caused prices of basic commodities to sky rocket beyond the reach of many.

Local currency earners are forced to buy forex on the black market at ridiculous rates to pay for most goods and services which gobble their salaries.

At supermarkets such as Greens, the rate is pegged at about $144:US$1. This is displayed on certain products such as Mazoe Orange Crush, which costs $448 or US$3,09 and R59,34.

Some pharmacies in Bulawayo are using US$1:$175. For instance, tablets to control high blood pressure and diabetes such as Enalapril, cost US$3 for a one-month course, but when paying in local currency, the price shoots up to $525. Using the official rate, the same pills should cost $262.

For those who pay rent, be it in the high or low-density suburbs or in the city centre, landlords demand payment in foreign currency. A room can cost US$30 in the high density while a full house can average US$350 in low density areas.

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