Zimbabwe

'DON'T SIGN': Zim advocate leads push to reject bank payouts in bond notes

2016-11-02 18:15
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Harare - Zimbabwe's central bank chief promised locals their bank accounts wouldn't be converted into "bond notes" - but turns out he wasn't telling the whole truth.

A leading high street bank in Zimbabwe has sent out a document telling its clients that it reserves the right "to pay [out] funds in one or more other currency or currency unit recognised at the time as legal tender." It's the "currency unit" phrase that's ominous.

RBZ chief John Mangudya has shied away from calling his about-to-be introduced bond notes a currency (though Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa had no such qualms last month). 

To make things worse, the bank tells clients they must agree that they won't hold the bank liable for any loss which arises "directly or indirectly from any action or omission by the bank...You assume all risks.

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"That may be to stop a flood of claims from clients who could lose their salaries or savings if and when they're converted to bond notes - just as happened to thousands during Zimbabwe's last hyper-inflationary crisis up to 2008.

Outspoken advocate Fadzayi Mahere has told Zimbabweans they should "refuse the amendment of our banking contracts".

"Would you give a thief your wallet if they tried to rob you? By the same token, we should refuse to be complicit to this fraud," she posted on Facebook. 

Former education minister David Coltart wrote Wednesday: "I fully concur with this advice given by Advocate Mahere. Banks do not have the right to unilaterally amend contracts."

Bond notes - dismissed in Zimbabwe as "funny money" - are causing panic across the board.

But the government of 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe is pressing on with them regardless as it struggles to find cash to pay civil servants and meet other obligations.

The authorities insist 1 bond note will be equivalent to $1.

It's Zimbabweans who get salaries paid into their accounts each month or who have built up savings since 2009 who stand to be the most affected if their hard currency is turned into bond notes.

Read more on:    john mangudya  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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