SCORES of Bulawayo residents are heading to banks to exchange discarded Zimbabwe dollar bills as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) moves to phase out the defunct currency.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
The local currency was phased out through demonetisation, a process to remove the legal status of a currency unit whenever there is a change of national currency. RBZ said the process that began on Monday would end in September.
The country adopted a basket of currencies in 2009, but mainly uses the United States dollar and the South African rand.
A snap survey by Southern Eye revealed that banks such as CBZ, Stanbic Bank and Barclays had started paying off account holders who lost fortunes in 2009.
Most of the clients were elderly people trickling into banks amid despair and dejection. “I had a lot of money in the bank and I was expecting to get something better not what the government is offering me. It’s an insult,” Nobukhosi Mlilo, a depositor with CBZ Bank, said.
Another depositor, Dumolwakhe Dhliwayo, echoed similar sentiments.
He said he sold three bulls in 2007 and deposited the money into the bank with an intention of buying a house, but he could not as the money was locked in the bank.
“This is an embarrassment to say the least. How can they give me $5 yet I had a lot of money in the bank?
“So this means my three bulls are now valued at $5? This is painful,” he said.
Some depositors took old Zimbabwean dollar notes in bags while others were turned away as they were carrying wrong notes.
Depositors said the government was taking them for a ride and as such they had lost confidence in the local banks.
In a statement on Thursday, RBZ governor John Mangudya said the demonetisation process would run up to September 30.
It will deal with all non-loan bank accounts as at December 31 2008 as well as cash held by the public.
Mangudya said all cash pay-outs under the demonetisation process shall be exempted from bank charges and government tax, and would be disbursed on a no-questions-asked basis.
Accounts with balances of zero to Z$175 quadrillion will be paid a flat $5 while those with balances above Z$175 quadrillion will be paid the equivalent value after applying the United Nations exchange rate of US$1/Z$35 quadrillion.