Alarm as govt mulls Z$ return

Source: Alarm as govt mulls Z$ return – DailyNews Live

Ndakaziva Majaka      21 May 2017

HARARE – There is widespread panic among both businesses and ordinary
Zimbabweans alike, after President Robert Mugabe’s ever-floundering
government ill-advisedly announced last Tuesday that it was working on “a
plan” to use gold reserves to anchor the reintroduction of the
much-derided Zim dollar.

The poorly-conceived announcement came as the country is battling severe
and worsening shortages of both bond notes and the much-coveted United
States dollars – amid fears that the dying local economy is fast hurtling
towards the debilitating lows of 2008 when all Zimbabweans became
overnight, but pitifully poor “multi-billionaires”.

It also came as economists have recently told the Daily News on Sunday
on the back of the country’s deepening economic crisis – that Zimbabwe’s
average income levels are now at their lowest in more than 60 years, with
more than 76 percent of the country’s populace having to make do with
wretched incomes that are well below the poverty datum line.

In addition, the country’s international standing and sovereign ratings
have also plummeted shockingly, resulting in Zimbabwe being classified
recently as the poorest country in Africa – amid horrendous company
closures and equally numbing levels of unemployment.

In Tuesday’s surprise announcement, State media quoted Mines minister
Walter Chidakwa saying that the government was working on “a plan to
establish a gold reserve set to anchor the introduction of a local
currency”, which would see the resurrection of the dead Zim dollar.

The plan, being modelled around the $200 million Afreximbank facility,
which backs bond notes – and whose legal processes were already said to be
before Parliament – had the ultimate aim of mitigating the country’s acute
liquidity and cash crunch.

“Naturally, in order to support the future introduction of our own
currency, you want to have mineral resources that you hold in reserve.

“We have discussed this matter with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and what
we are doing now, because most of the gold that is currently held is in
private hands, we need to get our own companies operating,” Chidakwa told
The Herald.

Chidakwa’s made the comments despite Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor
John Mangudya consistently saying that market conditions were not right
for the return of the Zim dollar anytime soon.

Speaking to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, former Finance minister,
Tendai Biti said Chidakwa’s comments “betrayed” government’s determination
to reintroduce the decommissioned Zim dollar.

“I have no doubt that the Zimbabwe dollar is coming back, but it will be
coming back in the context of a government that has totally failed to
resolve and restore the economic fundamentals that are needed for a local
currency.

“I will tell you this for a fact, there is not a single country that has
ever dollarised and gone back to its own currency.

“This is because by adopting the United States dollar, there was
institutional admission and a vote of no confidence in the Zimbabwe
dollar. The trust is just gone,” Biti said.

“These zombies of void reasoning want to introduce toilet paper as money
just to save their necks. But the conducive economic fundamentals are
lacking.

“I have always said that if the country wants to go back to a local
currency it should look beyond the multi-currency system and push for a
monetary union within the region, where fiscal and monetary convergence is
agreed upon,” he added.

“Firstly, it is beyond absurd to think that you can build $2 billion in
gold reserves in this country (as the government has suggested).

“The rest of the world departed from this in the 1970s. So, and for
starters, Zimbabweans need to question the ability and madness behind such
statements.

“They have simply failed and now want to monetise their inefficiencies.
And just how will they buy the gold with 97 percent of the country’s
revenues going towards civil service salaries and wages?” Biti said
further.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC also warned Zanu PF against
rushing the discarded Zim dollar back into the market.

“The Zanu PF regime is a renegade outfit that is capable of doing anything
… hence the bankrupt plans to bring back the Zimbabwe dollar.

“Remember, the national economy is comatose and Mugabe and his Zanu PF
regime are only concerned about holding onto power.

“These people don’t give a damn about the suffering of the majority of
Zimbabweans,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

Zimbabwe ditched its worthless currency and switched to the multiple
currency system in 2009.

This was after Zimbabwe had gone through one of its worst economic crises
in history, which saw  hyperinflation reaching world record figures
upwards of 231 million percent in 2008.

The economic carnage led to shortages of fuel and basic consumer goods,
amidst untold citizen suffering.

Economist John Robertson also said yesterday that introducing a
gold-backed local currency, while attractive on the surface, was not
ideal.

“Any currency is only truly backed by gold if it is convertible to gold.
There can be something appealing about the idea of a gold-backed currency,
instead of intrinsically worthless paper money, otherwise known as Fiat
currency, like the Zimbabwe dollar was in 2008.

“However, the problem is that this line of thinking is disconnected from
the real-world mechanisms of capital flows and the way money is created in
our financial system,” Robertson told the Daily News on Sunday.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a worsening economic crisis which has also
witnessed a severe shortage of cash, including the recently introduced
bond notes.

Despite injecting more bond notes into the market, and recently increasing
their weekly importation of United States dollars by 50 percent, the
government continues to battle to stem the acute cash shortages, which
have seen desperate Zimbabweans besieging over-stretched banks, as they
despairingly try to withdraw their money.

The disappearance of the country’s surrogate currency from the market has
also often forced banks to give clients their cash in sackfuls of coins.

It has also seen banks limiting the amount of money both individuals and
companies can withdraw, sometimes to as low as $20.

On Friday, bankers finally broke their silence on the matter and confirmed
that Zimbabwe was facing a huge financial crisis which required urgent
attention by the government.

Addressing delegates at the Financial Markets Indaba held in Harare,
Barclays Bank Zimbabwe managing director, George Guvamatanga, said bond
notes had vanished from the local market and were now big business in
neighbouring countries.

“It’s not yet established, but there could be more bond notes at Park
Station in South Africa, and in Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique than we
have here in Zimbabwe.

“Someone realised there is an opportunity to sell the bond notes to
Zimbabweans living outside the country, who then don’t have to come here
and queue to withdraw their money from banks.

“At the moment, it’s easier for us at Barclays to give United States
dollars than to give bond notes,” Guvamatanga told transfixed delegates.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 5
  • comment-avatar
    David 5 years ago

    If you can’t take it outside the country, it’ll rapidly do the same as the previous Zim$. The only way to sort this out is to get Zimbabwe back to a state where people want to live there and keep their money there. And the only way to do that is….well I’m sure you can guess…..

  • comment-avatar

    What is this government smoking.

  • comment-avatar

    Desperate idiots will make desperate decisions. Remember Hitler stroking the heads of young boys encouraging them to fight for the fatherland as the Americans and Russians were coming at the end of the 2nd World War. ZANU is no different. The end is nigh. My only hope is that the opposition can get its act together. They seem to be a bunch of Vapostori–too fragmented. We need statesmen not ego driven individuals.

    • comment-avatar
      Tsakatire 5 years ago

      spot on! its all about industriliasation, exports and keeping the ever moving residents.

  • comment-avatar

    Zim Dollar exchange rate to be pegged at 100,000,000,000,000 to the American cent?