Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter—
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is expected to introduce bond notes onto the market today with the majority of people expressing optimism that the new measure will be the panacea to cash shortages afflicting the economy. However, some people were of the opinion that there has not been adequate awareness campaigns and felt some unscrupulous people might dupe the public.
Authorities view the bond notes as a way of putting an end to cash hoarding and the externalisation of foreign currency, mainly the US dollar. The RBZ will release bond notes worth $10 million onto the market starting today with the withdrawal limits set at $50 per day and $150 weekly.
The notes are in $2 and $5 denominations and will be pegged at 1:1 against the US dollar. A new $1 bond coin has also been introduced. The $2 bond note is green and has images of balancing rocks on one side and the independence flame on the other.
The purple $5 bond note has balancing rocks and three giraffes. Security features on both notes include a Zimbabwe bird watermark, see-through perfect register, tactile marks for the visually — impaired, security thread, alpha — numeric lettering and optically variable ink.
Most people from the informal sector yesterday welcomed the bond notes and said this was going to ease cash shortages being experienced and boost their businesses. Some farmers have also welcomed the introduction of the bond notes, especially tobacco growers who expect a five percent export incentive.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union President Mr Wonder Chabikwa, said farmers expected the money this week. “We are waiting for the money and we hope it will be made available to farmers this week. This will motivate tobacco growers and some may increase hectarage as the planting window is still open.
“Farmers can use the money to buy fertilisers and chemicals and this may encourage more plantings,” he said. Mr Chabikwa said while the introduction of bond notes should ease cash shortages, farmers were businesspeople and should not be treated as individuals.
He raised concern over the withdrawal limit, which he said may present some challenges to farmers, especially when they want to withdraw wages for casual labour. “I hope the RBZ will have a special consideration for farmers. We cannot pay our workers using plastic money especially causal workers. There should be special considerations where farmers can access more cash when necessary,” he said.
Mr Chabikwa raised concern over the short period of awareness of the security features of the bond notes, which he said might affect some farmers in remote areas. “We have not seen the bond notes. Most farmers are in remote areas and rely on radio and cannot easily access newspapers. We are afraid some unscrupulous dealers may bring counterfeit notes and dupe farmers.
“We appeal to the RBZ and banks to bring posters of the new notes and coin at schools, clinics and shops in farming areas so that we familiarise ourselves with them to avoid being duped,” he said. He did not expect farmers to experience challenges when buying inputs since major agro dealers had point of sale machines.
“Some agro dealers in farming areas still do not have the technology and I urge the RBZ to use discretion on the issue of cash limits. If all retail outlets had the swipe facility, farmers would never experience challenges,” he said.
Chitungwiza hairdresser, Mrs Tsungayi Simbi, said she was optimistic the new money would be readily accepted as legal tender without challenges. “I think this is a noble initiative. I expect my business to boost since my customers will be in a position to access money,” she said.