Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Worsening cash crisis to trigger more protests—Watchdog

By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |

A local watchdog promoting peaceful co-existence, Heal Zimbabwe, on Tuesday carried out a quick survey around banks and immediately warned that the current cash crisis was getting worse and would likely trigger a new wave of protests.

Zimbabweans can spend all day in a bank queue
Zimbabweans can spend all day in a bank queue

Since July, Zimbabwe has witnessed a series of demonstrations as citizens protested against a worsening economic crisis characterised by poor circulation of money, growing poverty and high unemployment.

“Heal Zimbabwe notes that for the good welfare of citizens and continued prevalence of peace, the government must swiftly move in to address the crisis,” said the watchdog after its survey.

“According to a survey carried by Heal Zimbabwe on 4 October 2016, several banks such as POSB, FBC, CABS, ZB, CBZ and Barclays were not disbursing cash on their automated teller machines (ATM’s).

“Long queues were a common feature outside many banks with no indications that the banks were going to give people their money,” added Heal Zimbabwe.

Nehanda Radio also observed that, probably for the first time since the cash started in the first quarter of the year, some banks were disbursing bond coins worth as much as $20 to depositors.

Several locally-owned banks had reduced daily withdrawal limits from around $100 to as low as $50 while small denominations, particularly the $5, $10 and $20 notes, dominated payments to clients.

News of the introduction of much feared bond notes at the end of October has triggered the general disappearance of the US dollar from circulation while other currencies such as the yuan and the British pound have hardly found traction on the market and the South African Rand is considered too weak.

Government insists bond notes will enhance foreign currency inflows as they will be used to incentivise exports.

However, the majority of Zimbabweans are sceptical of the introduction of the bond notes, fearing that could lead to the reintroduction of the local currency that was abandoned in 2009 following unprecedented hyperinflation.

That perception is likely to grow if the trend of paying depositors in bond coins persists. Nehanda Radio