Zimbabwe

Zim activists arrested after street press conference on #Bondnotes

2016-11-28 19:15
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Harare - Zimbabwean police have arrested two leaders of a social movement that has vowed to campaign against the introduction of bond notes.

President Robert Mugabe's government on Monday started issuing bond notes - the country's "own currency" equivalent to the US dollar -  to avert current cash shortages in the southern African nation.

Promise Mkwananzi and Mehluli Dube of the #Tajamuka pressure group that led previous protests against Mugabe's administration were picked up by police during a press conference held in the streets of the capital, Harare. The duo were among the #Tajamuka leaders who threatened to stage protests on November 30 to press Harare to halt the circulation of the surrogate currency.

Mkwananzi told reporters that his group was of the view that the introduction of the bond notes was an attempt by authorities to bring back the Zimbabwean dollar through the back door.

"We hereby call on the government to stop the circulation of the bond notes through our financial system because they lied to Zimbabweans saying they were going to be an export incentive," said Mkwananzi. "We now know that the bond notes are a currency on their own and we say NO to them since we lost our money when some banks were shut down at the height of the hyperinflationary period."

Unsanctioned public gatherings

Mkwananzi and Dube were being held at the Harare Central Police Station. Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed the arrest of the two activists.

"I can confirm that the two are being detained at Harare Central and they are assisting us with investigations. We want to warn Zimbabweans against staging unsanctioned public gatherings as the law will take its course on errant members of the society," said Charamba.

Meanwhile, independent economist John Robertson said it was too early to tell whether the introduction of the bond notes would ease the current liquidity problems.

"No-one trusts this government but we have to wait for a few days to see if public transporters would accept them; we also have to see if the petrol service stations would accept them as legal tender. If they do not accept (them) then their effect would be seen by millions of travelers getting stranded and people not accepting when they make withdrawals from financial institutions," said Robertson.

Meanwhile, some retailers were refusing payment for goods in bond notes, saying they are yet to familiarise themselves with security features of the currency amid reports that the bond notes were readily available on the parallel market a day before their official introduction.

Prudence Chinyaka, who runs a fast food outlet in Harare's central business district said: "The central bank has not given us the specimens of the new bond notes and our fear is that we might fall prey to fraudsters as we do not know the difference between fake and genuine bond notes".

Multi-currency regime 

But some ordinary Zimbabweans like Faith Kore said the bond notes came at the right time.

"We could not get our money from banks before these bond notes were introduced, so I'm happy that today I can at least buy food for my family."

Reserve bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya and his deputies were not immediately available for comment. Prior to the introduction of the bond notes, Mangudya said the bond notes were going to be used as an incentive to exporters.

Zimbabwean authorities say the multi-currency regime, adopted in 2008 following a hyperinflationary period that rendered the country's currency worthless, would remain in force.

Said Zimbabwe's finance minister Patrick Chinamasa: "We are not going to return to the use of the Zimbabwean dollar until such a time when our economic situation is conducive to do so."

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  john mangudya  |  patrick chinamasa  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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