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Rand scarcity hits traders

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Cross border traders that ply their trade between Malawi and South Africa are facing challenges to access the South African Rand, as it has become scarce on the market.

Random interviews with business persons revealed that the rand is not readily available as has been the case in previous months.

The black market is also struggling to access the rand.

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One of the traders, Grace Chimimba from Chilobwe in Blantyre, said she has been moving from one bank to another trying to access the rand.

“Last week, I had to move my money from one bank account to another in search of the currency. This has delayed my trip for one week, which means I will also miss the delivery dates for my orders,” she said.

Chimimba further said the gain in strength of the rand against the kwacha has also affected business persons.

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“The appreciation of the rand has affected our working capital. Most of us had to look for additional funds to meet our required capital for our businesses,” Chimimba said.

Another trader, James Salimu, said most business persons are now banking on Malawians based in South Africa for easy access.

He, however, said this sometimes takes time, but one is assured of getting the currency.

“There are Malawians doing businesses in South Africa who sometimes bail us out. What happens is that, we agree on a rate and the amount, and then we either deposit the kwacha in their Malawian bank accounts or give the cash to their relatives. When we get to South Africa, we get our rands. This all works based on trust,” Salimu said.

One of the black market operators who opted for anonymity said the rand has been scarce for more than a week now.

The operator said it is becoming difficult to get even R200.

“The rand is nowhere to be seen at the moment. We are completely dry here. When it is available, it is not taking long before it’s sold. Even its rate has gone up. We are selling it at ZAR1 to K64 or K65,” said the operator.

Currently, commercial banks are selling the rand at around K63.

The rand has strengthened against major trading currencies since President Jacob Zuma stepped down and Cyril Ramaphosa took over.

On Friday, the rand was firmer against the dollar amid speculation that a Cabinet reshuffle by Ramaphosa was imminent.

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