'They want to sweep all the USD from the streets': What Zimbabweans are saying about #bond notes

2016-11-28 11:41


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Harare - Forget #BlackFriday. For Zimbabweans this is #Black Monday.

As Zimbabwe's controversial bond notes hit the banks, here's a taste of what some are thinking.

Be warned: most of it's not good. 

Unless of course you're from President Robert Mugabe's government.

 Defiance from the authorities

Zimbabwe's central bank isn't endearing itself to anyone with this story on the front-page of the Herald newspaper. "Court cases won't stop bond notes", the headline says.

The notes have been issued using a statutory instrument under the Presidential Powers Act, Zimbabwe's higher education minister Jonathan Moyo has confirmed.

That may mean the notes can only be used for six months, which isn't what the authorities want. There have already been attempts to get the bond notes declared illegal, notably from ex-VP Joice Mujuru.

What the RBZ's lawyer Gerald Mlotshwa is saying is that since the statutory instrument hasn't been nullified "the central bank can proceed to issue out bond notes and coins today without any hindrance."  Not every Zimbabwean will take that lying down.

Shout-out to the citizen bankers

You've heard of citizen journalists and citizen scientists - but how about citizen bankers? Zimbabwean advocate Fadzayi Mahere coined this term on Twitter on Monday morning in response to the leaked photos of stacks of bond notes and bags of shiny new bond coins

Could be a contestant for word-of-the-year, don't you think? Here's the definition: someone who works in the banking sector but is worried enough about the advent of bond notes to share the pics from his or her smartphone. 

How they gonna fix a cash shortage like this?

OK, so last week the central bank told Zimbabweans that no-one would have more than 19 bond notes (which it says is worth $US19) in his or her purse at a time.

Now the central bank says that the maximum withdrawal of bond notes is 50 per day, 150 per week. That's problematic on at least two fronts. First, 50 bond notes is a lot more than 19.

Also, do they mean you can only get 50 of any kind of currency out per day? There's no confirmation of that yet, though large queues outside banks seen at 08:00 this morning would suggest Zimbabweans are rather hoping not. 

Of course, if the bond notes start to lose value then it won't take long for lots of them to be necessary to make up 19 "real" US. The rumour on the streets is that they're already trading 1:3.

Confidence "down the tubes"

Former finance minister Tendai Biti says on Twitter that the "unanimous' opinion of local economists is "no to bond notes".

Professor Steve Hanke from Johns Hopkins University in the US isn't Zimbabwean but he is an expert on Zimbabwean inflation (the hyper-kind).

His latest assessment: "Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe uses billboards to assure public that new bond notes are 1:1 w/ USD. This is nonsense, confidence is down the tubes."

He also thinks the government wants to "hoard" the US dollars. Said one Zimbabwean (and his feelings were echoed by others): "I think they want to sweep off all the USD from the streets."


Spare a thought for the copywriter at Askeland MediaThe agency has had to insert a grovelling apology into the press today after Zimbabweans turned on the central bank over its badly-spelt "bond note billboards."

Many felt the mis-spelling of "seperate" only made the bank look amateur and even less worthy of trust than it already is. 

Askeland has apologised for the "embarrassing" mistakes and said they "sincerely regret any harm this might have caused to the reputation of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe." Their reputation's already not great, guys.


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