Over a year ago the government claimed that their de-dollarisation project was on track as usage of the Zimbabwean dollar appeared to be increasing. That doesn’t tally without our observations. We were recently at Mbare Musika as part of our latest price survey rounds. We couldn’t help but notice the dearth of local currency at the fruit and vegetable market. The majority of people, think around 95-99% were paying using USD dollars. The Zimbabwean dollar was relegated to very small transactions and change. This effectively means the place has completely dollars.

Before the government’s concerted crackdown on businesses offering discounts to those paying in USD a few weeks ago, usage of the US dollar in the formal sector was at an all time high of 50%. This fact is often happily acknowledged by our finance authorities when they want to calculate their blended inflation figures. They however often deny that this means that usage of the Zimbabwean dollar is falling.

At Mbare the usage of the RTGS dollar is practically nonexistent. The only people who seem to accept RTGS dollars are money changers who linger around the Chicken Slice outlet. Bakers Inn, Chicken Inn, Colcom, OK Supermarket and Farm and City are the only businesses that accept swipe and Ecocash at the official rate.No one spends USD in these shops thanks to the rate. Actually, people do use USD in Baker’s Inn because despite being caught a few weeks ago the company still offers inducements to those paying in USD. They have to. Otherwise, they will lose customers in a place where almost everyone uses the USD.