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Prices Surge, Banks Still Short On Cash Across Zimbabwe


Four days after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe issued a new Z$20,000 banknote and raised the daily limit on consumer bank withdrawals to the same amount, long lines to take out cash persisted at banks in the country's major cities, sources said.

Economists warned that the latest round of steep price increases for basic goods would exacerbate the need for cash and propel hyperinflation to new highs.

U.S. economist and monetary policy expert Steve Hanke, a professor of applied economists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said an independent analysis he had conducted on inflation showed it reaching a shocking annual rate of 531 billion percent late last month.

Reserve Bank officials made no public comments on the persistence of queues at banks. But financial sources said notes are in short supply because the RBZ lacks paper to print new bills, having been cut off by its German supplier some months ago.

Tensions were reported to be rising in long bank queues. Sources said soldiers in Hwange, Matabeleland North province, beat up a crowd at a Central African Banking Society branch there when customers became impatient and forced their way into the bank.

For a closer look at the crisis reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Hwange consumer Lebo Mhlanga and trade unionist Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the country's main labor organization.

Mhlanga said it takes him five days to get his monthly salary out of the bank - and that's only if he is lucky enough to get the maximum of $20,000 a day.

In other interviews, Angela Dube of Harare said the cash crisis is robbing people of valuable time spent waiting in endless cues that often end in frustration, while Jack Sibanda of Mutare urged Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono to boost the daily cash limit again.

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

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