The Currency Crisis in Zimbabwe

President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared that Zimbabwe is open for business which has left many citizens confused because they are trying to understand what he meant by that statement. The confusion is being solidified under Zimbabwe’s current currency crisis. Zimbabwe is dealing with a major devaluing of its currency as foreign currencies are becoming the preferred method of financial transactions in the country. The weakness of the Zimbabwe dollar has individuals using outside currencies as means of conducting financial transactions. This is Zimbabwe’s most severe economic collapse since a decade ago, when the national currency had to be abandon because of hyperinflation that reached more than 1 billion percent. Since then, daily transactions have been dominated by the U.S. dollar.

This current financial state of the country is one of the issues that Zimbabweans were afraid would continue to happen after former president Mugabe left office. Citizens were hoping that there would be a change for the better with the election of a new president, but with what is going on now under the government of current president Mnangagwa a new era of anti-government emotions has been set off because citizens  see that the change that they hoped for continues to be a dream that might never come true.

The dollar shortage that has been a result of the current economic downturn in Zimbabwe has forced citizens to use a government issued surrogate currency called bond notes. The country is also using mobile money funds that are e-funded into one’s bank account. The problem with the use of these methods is that it is not accepted everywhere. Even the Zimbabwean government is disregarding these methods of payment on some transactions, which is forcing citizens to buy goods from the black market. The government is responding to this by introducing regulations that propose a 10 year jail sentence for illegal foreign currency trade. The confusion felt by the Zimbabwean citizens is overwhelming as the government is refusing to accept forms of currency that it uses to pay the people while still issuing out these surrogate currencies that they refuse to take.

The black market is the only option that citizens have to turn to in order to buy the goods needed for survival at  ones own risk because now you can be jailed. Even if Zimbabweans chose to purchase goods through a retailer, the retailer sources their prices from the black market and would rather be paid in dollars rather than the government issued currencies just so that they can keep up with what is going on in the black market. It is as if citizens are living in a system that is working against them rather than helping them progress.

There is high level of distrust for the government in Zimbabwe as there always has been and as long as these actions by those in power continue to be perpetrated the disconnect between the Zimbabwean government and the Zimbabwean people will continue. There was a sense of hope that a new government would bring about change, but with this current currency crisis under the Mnangagwa presidency it is reminding Zimbabwe that change for the better is still a far cry away as the gap between the powerless and the those in power continues to stay wide through the one thing that that has always divided the social classes: MONEY!

Featured image | Zimbabwe currency depreciation 2008 | flickr

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.

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