DITCHED in February 2009 in favour of the United States dollar, wads of Zimbabwean dollar notes, bearer’s cheques and coins minted by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe are readily available in some parts of South Africa — for a price — and are a tourist attraction in Cape Town.
Outside Cafe Mozart on Church Street, Pretoria, tourists can buy the rare Zimbabwean dollar bills from curio operators who sit outside the restaurant, adding to the excitement of holidaymakers.
A collection of notes which were in circulation before the introduction of the first round of bearer’s cheques are in abundance in some curio shops.
“The Z$1 trillion is being sold for R350,” says one shop attendant.
“In a good week, I can make about R1 000 from selling these notes”.
Another large pile of old Zimbabwean coins, with some dating back to the days of colonial Rhodesia are also on display and of course, are for sale.
“Coin table, R5 each” reads the accompanying notice. To many Zimbabweans who come across these old notes, surprise and shock follows.
Perhaps the strong feelings are fuelled by all that the Zimbabwe dollar has come to represent to all those who endured the hyper inflationary era.
This includes memories of the collapse of the economy, the days of long queues and having to carry wads of worthless notes.
Despite the obvious shortcomings of relying on the US dollar, the central bank has repeatedly said it is nowhere close to re-introducing it. Financial Gazette