'Zimdollar not imminent'

'Zimdollar not imminent'
Deputy Information Minister Supa Mandiwanzira
Published: 25 April 2014
ZIMBABWE'S multi-currency regime will remain for the foreseeable future, the government said last night, trashing reports that its return was imminent.

Deputy Information Minister Supa Mandiwanzira, speaking in Bulawayo, said a report on the Bloomberg website - later picked up by a reputable Zimbabwean website - was a "fabrication" designed to hurt Zimbabwe's economy.

"It's unfortunate that some Zimbabwean journalists have the guts to fabricate information about the reintroduction of the Zimbabwean dollar, a report that is detrimental both to the government and the economy," Mandiwanzira told a media reception.

He said the timing of the report was "sinister", coming as it did when the country is holding its premier trade showcase, the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, "which is meant to attract investors who can help in reviving our economy".

"That article serves us no good and I'd like to encourage journalists to write things that build the image of the country, though we're from different media houses with different editorial policies," he said.

"We all love Zimbabwe, and as individuals we should publish content that will create jobs and bring about development."

Zimbabwe abandoned its currency in 2009 to contain rampant hyperinflation. In its place, a multi-currency regime was put in place - dominated by the United States dollar and the South African rand.

Bloomberg's report was citing unnamed Zanu-PF Politburo members, and claimed that Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa - who spoke at two public events in Bulawayo on Wednesday - was unavailable for comment.

Information Minister Professor  Jonathan Moyo, speaking to Chronicle on the sidelines of the media reception, said the return of the Zimbabwe dollar was a long way off as there were a number of issues that needed to be attended to before the government could even contemplate bringing back a local currency.

"Of course, we'll bring it back, but both the ruling party Zanu-PF and the government have been clear on record. In the case of the government, it's in our ZimAsset policy that the reintroduction of the Zimbabwe dollar can only be contemplated after we've turned around the economy," the minister said.

"In structural terms, there're certain enablers which need to be in place before we can begin a conversation about reintroducing the dollar."

Prof Moyo said the structural reforms were built around making sure that all those things that collapsed along with the Zimbabwe dollar were resuscitated.

He added: "When there is restoration, we'll expect the monetary authorities and fiscal authorities to put in place the modalities for the introduction of the Zimdollar and to do so in a transparent manner and you know that the monetary authorities aren't ready.

"The Minister of Finance and Economic Development is putting measures to restore the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as a lender of last resort and that among other things has included reintroducing the inter-bank market which is supervised by the RBZ.

"So there's a whole chain of structural reforms that are necessary to bring back the credibility of the central bank, consistency, policy clarity, and to do so in an inclusive manner that involves all the key players so that no one will either be ambushed or taken by surprise."

The Minister dismissed the reports of an imminent return of the Zimbabwe dollar as the work of journalists on the "lunatic fringe" of the profession.

"Now, it's very wrong for anyone to think they can create a story by waking up on the wrong side of the bed and then discover they don't have enough money, and then because they are freelancers, decide to imagine a story with imaginary sources and an imaginary government policy. That's not right… it's usually done by the lunatic fringe," Prof Moyo said.

"That's never done by mainstream proper media. You know every country has no shortage of the lunatic fringe, and we also have lunatics but we don't expect well-established media houses to behave like lunatics. It's absolutely lunatic to wake up and say there's a Zimbabwe dollar tomorrow. It's sheer lunacy with no basis in any reality."

Zimbabwe, the minister said, cannot go on forever using foreign currencies like the US dollar and the South African rand.

He explained: "Any country must have a national currency, national flag, national anthem and court of arms as we've in our constitution. We must have that.

"It's not something we're happy about. It's a sad thing that we should be using multiple currencies out of which the most dominant one is of a country [United States] that has imposed sanctions on us.

"We're using a currency of an unfriendly country and that can't be a matter of pride or celebration, but correcting it requires a responsible approach and that's what we are going to do."
- chronicle


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