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Zimbabweans Face Cash Shortages Again Despite Central Bank Moves

Cash shortages and long queues at banks have returned in Zimbabwe days after the central bank governor announced that consumers and businesses would be able to withdraw significantly more from their accounts on a daily basis.

Sources in Harare and Bulawayo reported unusually long queues at banks leaving some customers without cash when banks closed for the day. In Harare and Bulawayo financial institutions were dispensing relatively smaller denominations of Z$750,000 and Z$10 million and ATMs in both cities were empty by late in the day.

Some banks in Mutare, Manicaland Province, had Z$25 million and Z$50 million dollar notes but limited withdrawals to Z$1 billion, not the Z$5 billion limit which Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono announced on Wednesday.

Gono unveiled a number of policy changes in his quarterly policy statement, among them the establishment of a "twinning" arrangement to bring together willing buyers and sellers of foreign exchange - albeit subject to central bank review.

Some economists attribute such cash shortages to hyperinflation - as prices soar, the requirements for cash expand across the entire economy. Zimbabwe's inflation rate was last officially given as 165,000% for February.

Director Dennis Nikisi of the Graduate School of Management at the University of Zimbabwe told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the latest cash shortages reflect higher demand due to soaring prices for goods and services, and inadequate issuance of notes by the central bank.

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