Long lines remained a fixture outside Zimbabwean banks on Friday as consumers and business people struggled to get their hands on cash despite deliveries of new high-denomination notes to financial institutions by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Sources in Harare and elsewhere said cash remained scarce despite the distributions of the new bearer cheques - central bank promissory notes, essentially.
After delays Thursday, the central bank issued bearer cheques in denominations of Z$250,000, Z$500,000 and Z$750,000 in an effort to relieve cash shortages caused by soaring inflation and, says Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, hoarding by the parallel foreign exchange and commodities market dealers he calls “cash barons.”
Gono said in a televised address Wednesday that the central bank will withdraw from circulation all notes for Z$200,000 - until this week the largest bank note. But banks in Harare and Bulawayo were still paying them out to customers, sources said.
For more on the latest currency operation, reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with economist Eric Bloch of Bulawayo, who said central bank cash distributions should relieve the cash crunch - but only for a while.
Meanwhile, cash shortages and empty store shelves are making it hard for many in Zimbabwe to celebrate the holidays, but some innovative Bulawayo residents have found ways to keep the Christmas spirit alive, as Netsai Mlilo reported.