It has been almost six months since the Zimbabwean government passed a Statutory Instrument that repealed the Multicurrency system. A lot has happened since then with the government insisting that the Zimbabwean dollar is Zimbabwe’s sole and only currency while asking for foreign currency payments for certain services.

In the informal market, however, most traders are now openly preferring the Rand and the US Dollar with the bond notes and coins relegated to change functions. Shop owners in Mbare and downtown Harare, for example, will charge an exorbitant price in Zimbabwean dollars to dissuade people from paying using the currency although they will happily take the currency.

Black market bread sellers, however, prefer parity. Bread currently sells for $16 bond notes. That also happens to be the current obtainable rate when one is selling a single US dollar on the black market. These sellers happily accept either $16 bond notes or a dollar.

Bond notes are now serving their primary function

When the government first introduced the idea of the bond it was touted as a solution to the then prevailing change problem after the Rand started losing value making it difficult to use as change.

These days on the informal market the bond is now serving exactly that function given that US coins are very rare in Zimbabwe. For example, in a lot of shops, Parlenta Refined Meal 10kg costs $5.50. If you pay using a $6 dollars you get your mealie-meal and $8 bond in change.

That’s an ironic turn of events. When the government wanted people to use the bond as change people resisted the idea as they thought the government was trying to foist the Zimbabwean dollar on them. It’s a prophecy that has come true but now the bond is serving its original purpose.

It’s a trend we and others are observing in the market

We saw the preference for hard currency by traders throughout the holiday season. This was also matched by the open willingness of the paying public to pay in foreign currency as well.

The Standard has also observed the same trend in Chipinge. Here, however, the Rand seemed to be preferred as it is much more readily available compared to the US dollar. Most people have relatives who work in South Africa who regularly send money back.

Look, these guys bring [the] Rand when purchasing goods here. So basically we sell our goods in that currency which they get from South Africa. So we have decided to price our goods in Rand[s]

One shop owner

According to the Standard 2L bottle of cooking oil was trading at R40 while a packet of 2kg sugar was going for R36. Individuals were selling chicken at R100 and a goat was being sold for R500.

We don’t have an option here. We get Rand[s] from our customers and we give them change in Zimbabwe dollar. Ecocash or mobile money transactions are not popular here.

Another shop owner in Chisumbanje