Thursday, October 1, 2020

‘I will commit suicide if Zimdollar returns’ – Finance Minister

Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister says he will commit suicide if the Zimbabwe dollar returns to the country’s economy.

Early this year Zimbabwe’s inclusive government suspended the use of the local currency for it to focus on rebuilding the country’s shattered economy.

The 20-plus digit hyperinflationary environment, which became more severe in 2008, left the Zimbabwean dollar valueless, leading to the adoption of multiple currencies, dominant of which is the US dollar, South African rand and the Botswana Pula.

The new government went on to freeze all accounts and transactions that were still being executed in Zimbabwe dollars saying the local currency was now officially redundant.

At that time, Zimbabwe’s entire population of over 13 million was full of billionaires, trillionaires and quadrillionaires. The inflation rate had hit a record 231 million percent, becoming the highest world.

However, addressing journalists in Harare this week, Biti said he will commit suicide if the Zimbabwe dollar returns, saying it would be unscientific for someone to think of the return of the local currency in a manner which ignores the economic fundamentals prevailing in the country and region.

“Maybe I should commit suicide for some people to believe me when I
say the Zimbabwe dollar is not coming back,” Biti said. “Let me repeat this for the umpteenth time; we cannot and are not going to return the Zimbabwe dollar, unless we have an economy which can support it.”

Biti, who is also Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC secretary general, said the return of the Zimbabwe dollar should recognize trade pacts with organs such as Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

“A narrow, parochial and nationalistic manner with regard to
attempting to introduce the Zimbabwe dollar does not work,” Biti said.

Controversial Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono last month said the country should prepare for the revival of the dead currency and link it to gold reserves held in the country, a move investors said was a journey into the past.

Gono said bringing back the Zimbabwe dollar would not be blind but a
“guarded” process.

But analysts see an ulterior motive in bringing back the unit. They
believe Gono could be oiling the money printing machine once again to finance and subsidise government departments and a coterie of government officials as he did in the past.

Economist John Robertson said: “If we try to bring the Zimdollar back, it will lose value in a week. You need credibility in your
currency which is not there.”

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

COVID-19 throws Botswana Athletics Association off the track

Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) has cancelled its 2020 calendar of events. This was revealed by the association vice president technical Oabona Theetso.