Zimbabwean Police have been running various nationa wide operations in a bid to catch and arrest all people who are refusing to accept bond notes and coins. Dubbed Operation accept Zimbabwe currency as legal tender, the operations have seen a lot of informal traders being arrested for refusing to accept bond notes and coins as legal tender.

Weeks ago the informal sector demonitised all bond notes and coins. Very few members of the public are accepting bond notes and coins as currency. Those who are accepting these are treating them as equal to RTGS (electronic currency) and adjust their prices accordingly. Normally those paying using cash get a discount as transacting in electronic currency is subject to taxes and restrictions which means those who use cash to transact have an advantage. Those who pay using cash receive discounts as high as 50%.

Bulawayo vendor arrested in such an operation

A Bulawayo airtime vendor was one of the latest victims of this police operation:

On July 17 at 10am at Mandalane Building located at 5th Avenue and Fife Street Bulawayo, the accused was selling airtime in the shop. The complainant, Mr Mthokozisi Ngwenya handed over $18 bond notes intending to buy Telecel airtime. The accused told Mr Ngwenya that she had a limit for the amount of $2 bond notes and handed him back 2 x $2 notes and asked for a $5 note.

The accused person implied that the customer should produce $5 bond notes only as she had limits of accepting denominations less than $2 bond notes. The complainant later revealed his identity as a police officer and the accused person was arrested.

Savvy vendors thwarting the operation

Several vendors we spoke to said they have now found ways to blunt the police operation.

I don’t know why people are getting arrested over this. It’s easy, when a formally dressed dude approaches you with a wad of bond notes it’s obvious they are a police officer. No one else is doing this anymore unless they are paying for ZUPCO. Member of the public know that bond notes are not legal tender.

It has happened to me several times. Whenever someone approaches me I either say I no longer have airtime or simply charge him the same rate as if they were paying for in RTGS. There is no crime against that.