Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen more and more traders rejecting the $20 ZWL note. At this point, the rejection is now nearly universal and the only place you can spend $20 ZWL is in a big supermarket like OK, Spar or Pick N Pay. During a recent bank run, we made at our local FBC branch towards closing time we witnessed one supermarket dropping off about 6 trunks all filled to the brim with nothing but $20 ZWL notes. This can only mean one thing-the $20 ZWL note, just like the bond coins, bond notes and the $10 note before it, is now dead and demonetised.
There is a good reason for all this. The $20 ZWL note is worth only about US$0.02 even when you go by the official rate. You would need 50 $20 ZWL notes just to buy a loaf of bread and bales of money just to buy one week’s worth of groceries for the average household. That makes the currency pretty much useless and inconvenient to carry around. It doesn’t help that these days there isn’t much you can do with the ZWL currency as most things are now selling in USD. There are many other reasons why the $20 ZWL is being demonetised by the public including:
- Reduced use of ZWL cash in the economy in general. According to ZIMSTAT, about 75% of transactions are now in USD and this number continues to rise as the economy redollarises.
- The government’s continued preference for the USD. While they want to continue paying civil servants in ZWL, most government items are now priced in USD although for some items the government will allow you to pay in ZWL at the prevailing rate.
- Continuous loss of value even officially.
Just like always the RBZ will make some noises about the $20 ZWL note being legal tender but experience shows that once the public makes up its mind about a note, it’s a goner. The $20 ZWL note will be out of circulation soon as no one will accept it and there is really not much the RBZ can do about it. There was a time when the government would go around undercover trying to force businesses to accept ZWL notes like the $2 bond note but those days are long gone. There are very unlikely to put up much resistance now. If you have a stash of $20 ZWL notes somewhere the best thing you can do is gather them, dash to your nearest supermarket and buy yourself some sweets.