The Zim Dollar: Guess who’s back, back again?

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After semi-fleeing the economic scene in Zimbabwe more than 10 years ago – thanks to hyperinflation and uncle Bob and his chommies – and making space for Us dollar and the South African rand, the Zim dollar is back.

All million of them. Or billion. Okay trillion. But dressed up as the RTGS$ (Real Time Gross Settlement).

The interim currency, the RTGS$, saw the light in February 2019 as a way towards Zimbabwe’s new currency (and to close the gap between the official and black market exchange rates).

On Monday, the 24th of June, Zimbabwe’s finance minister, Mthuli Ncube announced that foreign currency will no longer be acceptable for transactions and that the interim currency will be the country’s sole legal tender. The US$, and Pula and Rand is tradeable in Zimbabwe, but it has to be converted into the local currency.

Oh, and of course… this is all with immediate effect. Gazetted. Done and dusted.

What does it mean you wonder?

In an excerpt from a Mail & Guardian article, Ncube is quoted to have said the following, “It means anyone who wants to buy goods or shop or pay for services, within the borders of Zimbabwe, ought to go to a bank or a bureau de change or some other institution to change their foreign currency into domestic currency and to spend that whichever way they wish to spend. That’s what normal countries do.”

It means that the days of Zimbabwe being a multi-currency place is gone; keep, or rather – exchange – your dollar dollar bills and your hard-earned rands because it won’t bring you past the pearly gates of the Victoria Falls.

It means that the dark times Zimbabweans have fought so hard to escape just got a few shades darker, almost like Vantablack, a material known as one of the darkest substances which absorbs 99.96% of light.

It means… what does this all mean? What does this all mean for the future of Zimbabwe? For the future of Zimbabweans? For the immediate future of small business owners, vendors and entrepreneurs?

Just a few days ago a gang or armed robbers stole 500 loaves of bread that was being delivered to a bakery in Harare. Bread. Not electronics. Not money. Bread. A scarce item with a high price tag.

For some time now things have not been all roses and moonshine for Zimbabweans, in fact, there has been an unfortunate significant increase in the suicide rates and at 27.8 deaths per 100 000 Zimbabwe has one of the highest suicide mortality rates among countries with populations greater than 1 million.

And amidst the country’s current financial turmoil (and Botswana’s recent lift on hunting) there is also the concern of the President’s recent call to lift the global ivory trade ban in order to fund conservation efforts for 20 years; Zimbabwe has $600 million worth of ivory and rhino horns stock, most of which is from natural attrition of those animals. Another concern is the country’s plan to sell elephants to Angola and their willingness to ship wild animals to anywhere in the world as a means to reduce the elephant population which is causing conflict between people and wildlife.

If you want to read a bit more and get a bit of insight into Zim’s economy, this article is recommended: Why no one is buying new Zimbabwean dollar