PANICKY retailers and suppliers have started rejecting coins, $2 and $5 bond notes as the local currency continues to collapse on the country’s active black market, demanding, instead, to be paid in the much more stable United States (US) dollar.
This comes as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has introduced, with effect from today, a dual pricing system, which will see retail shops pegging their prices in both the local currency and US dollar at the prevailing market rate.
Downtown traders who spoke with the Daily News revealed that they were refusing to take the $2 and $5 notes, with the inscription bond note on the top right corner, as they were being rejected where they buy foreign currency to import goods.
“As you know, we import most of our stock from neighbouring countries and that requires foreign currency.
“Where we are getting the foreign currency, the money changers have started rejecting the coins, $2 and $5 notes, so that is why we have also resolved to stop accepting the money because it seems like it is being phased out of the system,” one shop owner, Oscar Lwale, said.
Another trader, who sells farm products, indicated that farmers had also started rejecting the bond notes which has prompted her to reject the notes and coins.
“Farmers at Mbare Musika are just refusing to take the $2 and $5 bond notes. When we asked them why they were not accepting the money, they said they had also failed to buy even food items to eat because the notes were being rejected,” Praise Mukamo said.
Similarly, Habakkuk Trust Community Advocacy Action Teams in Matabeleland Province indicated that a significant number of shops were refusing to transact in local currency.
“Shops in Umzingwane and Matobo districts are reportedly refusing to accept payment in local currency, a move that has left some communities stranded.
“In Matobo ward 11, shop owners are demanding forex for essential goods like mealie meal, sugar. In some parts of Nkayi District, it has been reported that shop owners are refusing $2 and $5 bond denominations alleging that they have since expired,” a Habakkuk Trust Community Advocacy Action Team convener Shakespeare Ndlovu said.
“In the meantime, community members in Matobo ward 19 have lamented the unprofessional conduct displayed by shop owners as they are reportedly charging exorbitant prices to deter consumers from paying in local currency. Some products cost almost twice as much in local currency in order to force people to use the rand,” Ndlovu further said.
He added that the government’s inconsistency in the implementation of monetary measures, coupled with placid enforcement efforts, were to blame for illicit trading practices prevalent in the retail sector.
Meanwhile, national police spokesperson Paul Naythi said the police would take action against those found rejecting the coins and dollar notes which are still legal tender.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police has noted with concern that some business people, especially informal traders, are refusing to accept local currency coins, $2 and $5 notes, which is legal tender.
“The police will not hesitate to enforce the law on anyone found to be disregarding the country’s laws, especially during this lockdown period. The public is again urged to report such errant people for swift action to be taken,” Nyathi said.