ZiG notes, coins rollout brings relief

Pensioner Mr Steven Makanga admires a 10 ZiG note after withdrawing cash from a bank in the Central Business District of Harare yesterday

Zimbabweans yesterday began transacting in the newly introduced Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) notes and coins in denominations ranging from ZiG1 to ZiG200, which have since gained acceptance among service providers.

The rollout of the new currency is set to ease the pain of commuters who were being inconvenienced as public transport operators were now charging flat fares, prejudicing many of their change.

At the same time medical aid societies, under the banner of the Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ), also expressed optimism over the newly introduced ZiG currency, saying it will bring price stability and economic growth.

This comes as many service providers, including airlines, have begun accepting payment in ZiG as confidence in the new currency grows.

Yesterday around the country, people were withdrawing their cash with ease, with many optimistic that the new currency will hold fort against the United States dollar.

As early as 7am long winding queues had formed at some banks in Harare’s Central Business District including ZB, CABS, POSB, and NBS.

Among those first to withdraw the new notes and coins were pensioners, who were receiving their monthly payouts.

Interviewed citizens said they were being given tokens or even sweets instead of cash because of the absence of money in small denominations.

All those inconveniences are now a thing of the past, as our reporter boarded a commuter omnibus from Harare CBD to Warren Park 1, where he paid US$1 and was given ZiG 7 change, while in Masvingo vendors were also accepting the crispy new notes.

Greater Harare Association of Commuter Operators (GHACO) chairman, Mr Ngoni Katsvairo, said they will abide by the prevailing Government stipulated rate.

“Going by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe rate, 0,50 cents will be 7 ZiG rounded off,” he said.

Mr Katsvairo, however, said as operators they were also pleading with Government for dedicated fuel stations and spares shops that would be accepting ZiG currency.

Speaking during a Monetary Policy breakfast meeting, AHFoZ chief executive officer, Ms Shylet Sanyanga said the introduction of a gold-backed currency has reignited hope in the medical aid industry.

“We are optimistic that the new currency is going to assist the healthcare sector to be sustainable. Members of the public will be able to get good packages using the currency that they have at their disposal,” said Ms Sanyanga.

She also urged all healthcare stakeholders to accept the new currency, emphasising that its value is influenced by public perception.

“We cannot succeed as a country if we do not use our currency or embrace it. I think we should give it a chance”.

The new currency comes at a time when private healthcare service providers had shifted to charging exclusively in US dollars due to speculation, thereby causing challenges for medical aid societies’ members.

“We are optimistic that our member societies can market their products, and consumers will be able to choose and buy products using whatever they have at their disposal,” said Ms Sanyanga.

One of the first people to withdraw ZiG notes and coins at CABS First Street Branch in Harare, Mr Lovemore Dhliwayo, could not hide his excitement when he came out of the bank holding the new currency and was immediately mobbed as people wanted to take a glimpse of the new notes.

“We have been at the mercy of traders and transporters who were demanding US$1 on every transaction and I am happy that the new money is finally out so that we can get our change,” said Mr Dhliwayo.

Mr Takawira Maramabanyika, a pensioner who also withdrew his ZiG notes said he is happy to be part of history in the making.

“The money looks good; it will definitely help on the issue of change. I am also happy that the country now has its own currency and I hope authorities will take bold measures to preserve its value.

“Authorities should continue with the clampdown on money changers as they are the major culprits in eroding the value of our money,” said Mr Maramabanyika.

In Beitbridge, the newly introduced Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) notes and coins were yet to be delivered, with most banks saying they were expecting to receive the notes by the end of the day.

In Masvingo City, the CBD was teeming with people from early morning as long queues formed outside banking halls, with people waiting for a chance to withdraw the new ZiG currency for the first time. Traders also reported increased business as those who withdrew their cash were using it to buy goods such as vegetables and fruits in the city.

Major supermarkets such as OK and Pick n’ Pay also recorded increased business as people thronged these outlets to spend their newly-withdrawn cash, with most people saying the release of the new currency will improve the way shoppers and businesses transact.

A city mechanic, Itai Hwenjere, said the release of the new currency was a welcome relief for the general public, especially those who rely on public transport and informal traders involved in the sale of fruits and vegetables.


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