For most Zimbabwean banks the weekly withdrawal limit is still a paltry $1000 ZWL. If you withdraw this amount you are done for the week. It doesn’t matter that most people earn tens of thousands of dollars if they are being paid in the local currency. Most companies including even the government have since started paying their employees partly in USD as well. The problem with that withdrawal limit is that officially it’s a mere US$11.70 and unofficially it is less than US$10. It’s a problem not even the new $50 note is even going to solve.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (the Bank) wishes to advise the public that ZW$50 bank note issued on 6 July 2021 through Statutory Insturment 196 of 2021 will be introduced into circulation on 7 July 2021.

The Bank shall release ZW$360 million through normal banking channels and banks are expected to fund their respective accounts held at the Reserve Bank and collect the cash from 7 July 2021

John P Mangudya

Governor

6 July 2021

The notice by the central bank introducing the new note
Security features of the new note

The new note even comes with security features as is standard but I don’t think they should have bothered. Nobody will be counterfeiting this note. A loaf of bread already costs $100 ZWL+ in most neighbourhoods if you are buying using cash. Counterfeiting this bill will probably cost you more than the actual face value of the note itself and therein lies the problem. Apart from probably dooming the $10 ZWL note which vendors will probably start rejecting son this note serves no meaningful purpose. The prevailing cash shortage will continue and the withdrawal limits will most likely only receive a minor bump.

ZUPCO urban buses are currently charging as much as $120 per trip. If you live in areas like Chitungwiza it means the weekly withdrawal limit is not even enough to cover your weekly bus fare let alone buy vegetables from the local market. The new note is unlikely to change that. The government needs to produce a $10 000 ZWL note. That’s the equivalent of about $90 or so USD at current black market rates. Those are the kinds of values that would actually be useful.

That’s probably not going to happen for starters it would be embarrassing. The government has been telling everyone that things are going well. Printing higher denomination notes conflicts with that narrative. They would rather drag it out than face it and fix it.

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