Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's bond notes out on Monday, central bank confirms

2016-11-26 21:00
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Harare - Zimbabwe's dreaded new bond notes are out on Monday, the central bank has confirmed - and locals have been told to report any attempts to "abuse" them.

A statement from the bank reads: "The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is pleased to advise the nation of the introduction of bond notes with effect from Monday 28 November 2016."

A first batch of 10 million notes will be released in denominations of 2.

The cash-strapped authorities insist that the notes - officially nothing more than an "export incentive" - will be at par with the US.

That has not convinced the majority of Zimbabweans, who have only-too-clear memories of the ravages of the 2006-8 hyper-inflationary era when savings and pensions were wiped out and shortages of basics widespread.

Interestingly alongside the 10 million worth of notes, another 2 million US of bond coins will be introduced, the reserve bank says.

'Economic suicide'

Bond coins - introduced in 2014 as a way of making supermarket change more available - are now widely accepted. There has been speculation that the authorities may try to lean heavily on the coins (the biggest denomination is 50 cents) from now on, especially as many are remarking on the shiny brand-new coins that they are suddenly being given.

Commented leading independent journalist Nqaba Matshazi on Twitter: "Zimbabwe begins a new chapter of monetary recklessness and economic suicide."

The bond notes are being introduced even though the finance minister this week did not fast-track changes to the law to make them legal as he had originally intended to. There were hopes that the introduction of the new notes would be delayed after Patrick Chinamasa agreed to allow the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill to go through normal public and parliamentary consultation processes.

That hasn't happened - but that doesn't seem to worry the central bank.

Leading human rights lawyer Irene Petras commented in an ominous tweet: "Remember this date - when RBZ & [government] illegally, immorally and inhumanely set about destroying Zimbabwean lives for a second time."

Zimbabweans with bank accounts have relied largely on card payments where possible since cash shortages first started to bite earlier this year. But there are signs businesses may stop accepting the cards once bond notes come into circulation. Already some fuel stations do not want card payments and some shops insist on cash only for certain goods.

Read more on:    patrick chinamasa  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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