Zimbabweans wash dirty US dollars with soap, water

2010-07-06 15:17

The washing machine cycle takes about 45 minutes – and George

Washington comes out much cleaner in the Zimbabwe-style laundering of dirty

money.

Low-denomination US bank notes change hands until they fall apart

here in Africa, and the bills are routinely carried in underwear and shoes

through crime-ridden slums.

Some have become almost too smelly to handle, so Zimbabweans have

taken to putting their $1 bills through the spin cycle and hanging them up to

dry with clothes pins alongside their sheets and clothes.

It’s the best solution – apart from rubber gloves or disinfectant

wipes – in a country where the US dollar has long been the currency of choice

and where the lifespan of a dollar far exceeds what the US Federal Reserve

intends.

Zimbabwe’s coalition government officially declared the US dollar

legal tender last year to eradicate world record inflation of billions of

percent in the local Zimbabwe dollar as the economy collapsed.

The US Federal Reserve destroys about 7 000 tons of worn-out money

every year. It says the average $1 bill circulates in the US for about 20 months

– nowhere near its African life span of many years.

Larger denominations coming in through banks and formal import and

export trade are less soiled. But among Africa’s poor, the $1, $2, $5 and $10

bills are the most sought after. Dirty $1 bills can remain in circulation at

rural markets, bus parks and beer halls almost indefinitely, or at least until

they finally disintegrate.

Still, banks and most businesses in Zimbabwe do not accept torn,

Scotch-taped, scorched, defaced, exceptionally dirty or otherwise damaged US

notes.

Zimbabweans say the US notes do best with gentle hand-washing in

warm water. But at a laundry and dry cleaner in eastern Harare, a machine cycle

does little harm either to the cotton-weave type of paper. Locals say chemical

“dry cleaning” is not recommended – it fades the colour of the famed

greenback.

Storekeeper Jackie Dube hasn’t yet taken up the advice of friends

to start washing the often damp and stinking US dollars she receives for the

garments and cheap Chinese consumer goods she sells in Harare. It’s

time-consuming, she says, but notes stinky bills are a problem.

“I get rid of the worst of the notes as soon as I can in change,”

she said.

 

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.