So, where are US$ coins actually accepted for retail in Zimbabwe? I find it interesting that having adopted a multi-currency system as a country – some retailers neither recognise nor accept US$ coins. Picture this; you want to purchase a product that costs $3, 25. You hand over three US$1 notes to the teller and when you give them a quarter, they look at it, frown and say they don’t accept that but R2 (two Rand) would do instead. I mean what the bollocks?
Ever since I returned from the States, I have been carrying around a wallet full of what I realise now are essentially useless coins here. I just don’t get it. Yesterday evening while making a few purchases at the Bridge Spar, I tried my luck again with the coins. The till attendant looked at me squarely and said it was after 6pm therefore she could no longer accept US$ coins. I demanded an explanation as to what it being after 6pm had anything to do with what choice of coins was acceptable. The till attendant mumbled something along the lines of the shop being unable to give them to other customers as change or ‘cash’ them, whatever that means. I drew surprised stares when I thought aloud that that was one of the stupidest things I had heard all week.
It is bad enough we are not using our own currency, but to have selective use of the foreign currency that we do use is an unnecessary inconvenience. I think it is high time for whoever’s job it is to start working towards a more sustainable currency solution. I mean for how long can a country live under all sorts of speculation. The Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme (STERP) stipulates that the temporary use of multiple currencies terminates in 2012. Then what next? In last week’s Standard, the IMF was quoted in an article as having cautioned the Zimbabwean government against re-introducing the Zim-dollar. They said the country should rather extend the life span of the multi-currency system and also continue using the US dollar till 2014. The IMF Article IV report on Zimbabwe stipulates that the inclusive government has failed to put in place adequate conditions for the re-introduction of the Zim-dollar.
Last year there were speculations that the government attempted to join the Rand Monetary Union (currently consisting of Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho and South Africa). Big wonder what happened to that idea. The media reported that Cabinet for the most part feared rejection. Now I hear old Zimbabwean coins are being purchased for long cash and selling like hot cakes on the streets. I wonder if like in 2008 the RBZ governor might just once again resuscitate old currency. I sure am holding on to whatever original Zimbabwean notes and coins I still have, all together with my currently useless US$ coins.