Given how no one is talking about it anymore you would be forgiven for thinking that the cash crisis in Zimbabwe is a thing of the past. That is far from the case. People who want ZWL cash often have to buy it from the streets at a premium. The irony with the ZWL cash crisis though is that it’s now easier to withdraw USD cash from a bank than it is to get ZWL.

You just walk up to an ATM, insert your bank card and USD cash pops out. Most banks have very generous withdrawal limits too. For a lot of banks, you can withdraw up to US$2 000 from their ATM. If you want more and have a plausible reason you can walk into any one of your bank’s mostly empty branches and get it. In contrast, ZWL notes are scarce.

A crisis that’s no longer a crisis

Zimbabwe’s cash crisis has been ongoing for years. Most people have stopped complaining and found a way to live with it. It’s the Zimbabwean way you find a solution yourself instead of waiting for a higher power to come to your rescue. People for example have stopped queueing up at banks to wait for a paltry allowance that will not even be enough to last them through the week.

The authorities have proven themselves unwilling or unable to help with cash shortages. For starters, they have shied away from printing big notes in a misguided bit to shoal up the value of the local currency. They fear that when they start printing $1000 ZWL there will be runaway inflation. They have instead opted to settle for smaller notes which cannot even buy a loaf of bread. The result has been a lose-lose situation. Printing small notes only has not helped the ZWL retain value and the cash crisis has persisted.

Well, it used to be a crisis but thanks to more and more reliance on the USD dollar most people are no longer affected. Dollarisation is something the government was determined to prevent but it seems they have failed. Most companies report that at least half their transactions are now taking place in USD.

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