HARARE – The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has pleaded with depositors to stop panic withdrawals from banks as this will only worsen the economic situation in the country.
Hard-pressed central governor John Mangudya on Monday told Parliament that the introduction of bond notes is aimed at supporting exporters and does not signal the end of the multiple currency system.
“Bond coins dealt with the change problem. The purpose of bond notes is to deal with an incentive for exporters but people are now confusing that the bond notes are here to cater for cash shortages, No. That is not the case,” he said.
This was after the RBZ’s recent measures, including limiting withdrawals to $1 000 per day and introducing a series of tokens, known as bond notes and rated at par with the US dollar to ease the current cash crisis have been met with resistance amid concerns in some sectors that government is now planning to bring back the dreaded Zim-dollar.
Since last week, depositors have been rushing to withdraw their hard-earned monies from financial institutions — sparking fears of bank run-ins — while farmers also rioted demanding to get their tobacco earnings in cash excess of the limited $1 000 daily withdrawals.
Mangudya, who capitulated under pressure and allowed farmers to receive up to $10 000 per day, conceded that the recent policy pronouncements were misunderstood by the public.
“I sympathise with the people of Zimbabwe who have taken our policy pronouncements to address the US dollar cash shortages to anticipate that we are going to have a repeat of the economic tragedy of 2008. What we are trying to do is to ensure that the economy is stabilised and stimulated for the betterment of all Zimbabweans. So the people of Zimbabwe should know that it is not correct to compare bond notes with bearer cheques from the Zim dollar era,” he added.
Zimbabwe adopted the United States dollar and South African currencies in 2009 after hyperinflation peaked at 231 million percent, rendering the national currency worthless.
However, the recent appreciation of the greenback coupled with declining manufacturing production and widening trade deficit has left the country experiencing a biting liquidity crunch.
“We said instead of giving exporters real cash in an economy where there is externalisation, cash flight and hoarding of cash we knew people would hoard from this facility so we decided to use a bit of some leverage by then providing bond notes against this facility,” Mangudya said.
The Apex bank chief said Zimbabweans must have a positive attitude towards the economy and embrace the notes, which are nothing more that “just an export incentive scheme”.