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Zimbabwe Cash Crunch Eases Somewhat, Though Lines Remain At Banks


The shortages of cash which made the holidays miserable for many Zimbabweans who spent them waiting outside banks eased somewhat Wednesday and in the capital the situation had improved markedly - though long lines were reported nationwide.

Banks which had refused to dispense the full Z$50 million allowance set by the central bank during much of the past week to 10 days were now giving customers the full amount. Banks also returned to their normal hours after extending schedules.

But Zimbabweans in Bulawayo, the second city, continued to wait in long lines while some ATMs ran out of cash late in the day, local sources said. In Chinhoyi, northwest of Harare, long lines were also reported with the queue at the Beverly building society reportedly some 600 meters long with disbursals of just Z$10 million at the head.

Correspondent Peter Nthambe of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe provided reporter Patience Rusere with details on conditions at banks in the capital Wednesday.

Debate continued as to the cause of the crisis, with Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono at the center of a storm of criticism of what is widely considered to have been an ill-conceived program of currency issuance and exchange in the holiday season.

Associate Banking and Finance Professor Daniel Makina of the University of South Africa blamed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, saying the cash crunch could be ended if the central bank would simply print higher-denomination bank notes.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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