Yesterday social media was lit up with a very realistic image which showed two coins being held in the palm of someone’s hand. The image was not captioned but the implication was that the Zimbabwean government was planning to introduce these new coins.

The picture that has Zimbabwean social media talking

We can tell you one thing. Our rudimentary test seemed to conclude that this was a real image although it probably has been edited. We hardly experts but it seems probable that someone was actually holding these coins in the palm of their hand and took this image.

That in itself doesn’t mean anything. The RBZ, Zimbabwe’s official monetary authorities, have unequivocally stated that they are not planning to introduce these new coins as currency.

It’s all fake news; I don’t know what is happening back home (in terms of spreading false information).There is nothing like that. I think there is a lot that is happening underground because the intensity of what is going on is alarming.

We can do with less bad news as a country. This bad news is unhelpful to the economy.

RBZ John Mangudya on the coins

People do not believe them and it’s entirely the government’s fault

People are unconvinced and still believe the government wants to ambush them as they have done so countless times in the past. While the government is quick to blame social media for the ills befalling our economy the truth is that the government should take a lion’s share of the blame.

Why? Well over the past 6 or so years the Zimbabwean government has revelled in launching cruel surprises upon its population especially when it comes to profound economic policies. It has happened countless times this year alone already.

  • In January the President announced a mamonth fuel price increases in the dead of night with little warning and without abandoning the 1:1 regime before he seemingly bolted out of the country.
  • In February the RBZ governor ditched the 1:1 regime and introduced the interbank rate with little warning upending the system again
  • Later he removed Bureau de change restrictions again with little warning
  • The mother of all surprises came on 24 June when the government scrapped the multicurrency system with little warning or explanation after years of promising they would not do so
  • The bank account freezes of the past few weeks
  • The bureau de change restrictions which were reapplied
  • 2% tax applied on cash-out transactions

I could go on but you see the picture. In fact every time they do it, the authorities give themselves a self-congratulatory pat on the back. His excellency has called it being clever that “saboteurs.”

The reality is that in the long term this erodes trust in government and its institutions. Most people now believe the government is actively working against them and would see them ruined. They are now always on the lookout for the next government trap.

While these surprises have yielded some short term results, in the long run, they do more harm than good. Economies rely on people’s faith. The government’s very own behaviour has meant that people’s confidence in them is very low right now.