South Africa brings change to Zim?...?literally

2014-12-07 06:00

Harare – Zimbabwe has introduced a new coin that will be in circulation from the middle of this month and was minted in South Africa.

Reserve Bank Governor John Mangudya said the coins would be on par with the US dollar, and have denominations of 1c, 5c, 10c, 25c and 50c. The latter is expected to go into circulation in March, Mangudya said at the unveiling on Friday.

Zimbabweans have been promised the measure will help them save money.

“The economics of the bond coins [which is what the new coins are called] is that they are being introduced to buttress the multiple currency system through the provision of change, especially for the US dollar notes – which have a smallest denomination in circulation in Zimbabwe of $1,” said Mangudya.

In minibus taxis in Zimbabwe, the South African R5 coin is readily accepted as standard fare, but Harare shopkeepers frown on rands for any purchases over a dollar.

Zimbabweans are often left short-changed, with South African rand coins (at an apparently fixed rate of R10 to the dollar), credit notes and even sweets used for change on purchases where prices aren’t rounded to the nearest dollar.

Following a time of disastrous hyperinflation, the US dollar replaced the Zimbabwean dollar in 2009 as the country’s main currency. But because of high shipping costs, US coins are not widely in circulation.

Some have feared that the new coins, unveiled while a much-hyped five-yearly Zanu-PF congress was in full swing in Harare on Friday, could signal a return to the Zimbabwean dollar – a move that was even hinted at ahead of last year’s elections.

The Reserve Bank and government have, however, denied this.

Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank issued a US$50?million bond in September to raise money to release the coins, hence the name “bond coins”.

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