To say Zimbabweans live on a knife edge is no exaggeration. Fuel price hikes announced in the dead of night were only the latest in a series of moves but our government that often caused more harm than good. The policy position is wrought with announcements that can completely rock the nation and the status quo at any time.
Biti on twitter
Former Finance minister Tendai Biti through his Twitter account claimed that the government planned to reveal a new currency this week with the expected monetary policy statement from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. This triggered a frenzy as people quickly referred to times in the past when the government made similar moves to the detriment of citizens.
Well there were many responses from government and their responses might actually be the problem. Through the ministry of Information, the reserve bank of Zimbabwe and many other outlets there were denials of the plans. And then in came Deputy Minister for Information Energy Mutodi to also dispel the rumors. Sadly since his well-documented and discussed statement that there was no deliberate shutdown of the internet during the protests Mutodi may not be the most trustworthy source.
There has been consistent nonspecific talk of the return of a local currency to Zimbabwe with minister Mthuli Ncube saying we will have one within 12 months. There were many murmurings in government about the need for a local currency as the US dollar is unsustainable. In fact when Mthuli Ncube spoke about the local currency return he stated that they were in the process of creating reserves of foreign currency required to back the new currency. Coincidentally ZIMRA was silent about its US dollar earnings.
Biti went on to say introducing an unbacked currency was just as good as introducing another bond note. And the history of the bond note shows you why people are uneasy at Bitis statements. Without adequate reforms the introduction of a new currency would become another solution that feeds the problem in our long history of inadequate policy.
We’ve seen protests and unfortunate loss of life when government pulled a quick move to hike fuel prices. We are dealing with a government that steam rolled the introduction of a bond note as our savior that has become our tormentor. To dismiss Biti’s claim as many have done is up to the individual. We will know soon enough if it was just a claim or our next chapter in the Zimbabwean story.