Harare, (New Ziana) – The new Zimbabwe dollar notes and coins finally hit the streets on Tuesday as depositors, who waited in long queues to make withdrawals in banks, started accessing the cash.
This was after a false start on Monday, the day the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had said it would bring them into circulation, which led to
The central introduced the new notes after the government mid-this year returned the local currency as part of wider reforms, aimed at stabilizing the economy.
The currency reforms saw the government dumping use of multiple foreign currencies for local transactions, a decade after it adopted them.
In $2 and $5 denominations as well as $2 bond coins, the new currency came as a huge relief to Zimbabweans who had for years endured cash shortages and were now only managing to access it on the parallel market, for a premium.
The Zimbabwe dollar notes will circulate alongside the $2 and $5 bond notes which were introduced over three years ago and are expected to eventually be withdrawn from circulation.
The central bank said it had released an initial $30 million to banks on Monday, with withdrawals having started Tuesday morning.
Over a billion dollars in new notes will be drip fed into the system to avoid fueling inflation, the RBZ has said.
Long winding queues were seen early in the morning at banks such as Cabs and CBZ as depositors eagerly awaited to make withdrawals.
“I was in the queue as early 4am,” said one Thomas Mona. “But I only managed to withdraw $100 because of limits that are being applied.”
The central bank has a set cash withdrawal limit of $300 a week, but depositors said that should be reviewed in light of inflation developments since the benchmark was set.
Besides the limits, depositors expressed a general sentiment that it would have been prudent for the central bank to introduce higher denomination notes.
“One needs at least eight of these $2 notes to buy a loaf of bread. Why should we have the highest denomination of our currency not being
enough to buy bread,” asked one social media user.
But the Reserve Bank has said the introduction was a deliberate move to avoid price hikes that will drive inflation.
Introduction of the new notes is expected to deal a blow to the thriving illegal cash selling business and make it cheaper for the public to transact.
And as has become the norm whenever new bank notes are unveiled in the country, they were also readily available on the streets.