ZIMBABWE, NOVEMBER 28, 2016 – Zimbabwe on Monday launched a new currency, issuing 10 million dollar of ‘bond notes’ that the authorities hope will ease a severe cash crunch.
However, critics fear it will erase their savings less than a decade after a hyper-inflationary economic meltdown.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) first announced the plan in May to address chronic cash shortages and supplement the dwindling U.S. dollars that have been in circulation for the past seven years.
However, the announcement triggered a run on the banks as Zimbabweans tried to empty their accounts of hard currency.
The notes have also fueled some of the largest protests in a decade against President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s leader since independence 36 years ago, and led to suggestions they could cause the 92-year-old’s downfall.
A 36-year-old street hawker Tennison Tigere, said she have bought airtime and just wanted to try to purchase something from one of the big supermarkets.
Tigere said shortly after withdrawing 50 dollar of bond notes from a Harare bank.
“People are skeptical because of what happened to our old currency in the past when the money lost its value, that is why they think it could happen again,’’ she added.
The RBZ said the bond notes would be officially interchangeable 1:1 with the U.S. dollar.
It added that they would be deposited directly into U.S. dollar accounts, where they would be reflected as dollar balances.
The cash shortages have come against the backdrop of slowing economic growth and a devastating drought that has left millions facing hunger.