ZIMBABWEANS should brace themselves for another bumpy ride after President Robert Mugabe said on Friday that if voted into office on July 31, he would bring back the Zimbabwe dollar.
The local currency was demonetised in 2009 to pave way for a basket of multiple currencies which have been credited with taming hyperinflation that had made the Zimdollar worthless.
Launching the Zanu PF manifesto in Highfield at Zimbabwe Grounds, Mugabe said the US dollar had brought a lot of misery to Zimbabweans, especially rural folks who had to sell their livestock to get money.
“The US dollar was something that was precious to rural people because we adopted the American currency in an effort to arrest inflation that was troubling our nation making our Zimbabwe dollar valueless.
“We needed millions or billions of Zimbabwean dollars to get an equivalent of one American dollar,” Mugabe said.
He added: “We will get to a point that we shall say ‘no, we need to get back to our Zimbabwe dollar’.
“We shall do that and strengthen our dollar. We can strengthen it through gold if we have the gold that is kept at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.”
Mugabe said gold was important as it gave value to money.
“We shall mine a lot of gold that we have in the country so that it gives value to the Zimbabwe dollar, so that it can be equivalent to American dollar. One ounce of gold is over a thousand, just one ounce,” Mugabe said.
Successive Zanu PF annual conferences since 2010 have called for the return of the Zimbabwe dollar.
But Finance minister Tendai Biti has ruled out the return of the Zimdollar saying those who wanted it were unfairly benefiting.
Analysts say the proposed return of the local currency was not feasible.
“l don’t think bringing back the Zimbabwean dollar at any time or in the near future is feasible. It would be a mistake. The woman in the street is not prepared,” Tony Hawkins, an economics professor at the University of Zimbabwe.
Another economic analyst, John Robertson, said the challenge that Zimbabwe had at the moment was to build up exports revenue so that they exceed imports.
“We are importing vastly more than we are exporting, so that means our money is leaving the country to pay for imports,” he said.
“We have a huge domestic debt. We have to pay that debt before we expect anybody to trust us with the currency.”
It was during the Zimbabwe dollar era in 2008 that the country recorded the highest-ever inflation rate in the world.