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Zimbabweans queue as central bank releases $30mn into market

Until now, the majority of Zimbabweans have been using debit cards or mobile phones to pay for goods but are sometimes forced to pay higher prices if they don't have cash.

A woman with cash in hand walks past fellow bank customers queing to withdraw the new Zimbabwe currency in Harare on 12 November 2019. Picture: AFP

HARARE - Long queues have formed outside banks in Zimbabwe on Tuesday after the central bank released $30 million worth of new banknotes and coins onto the market.

Until now, the majority of Zimbabweans have been using debit cards or mobile phones to pay for goods but are sometimes forced to pay higher prices if they don't have cash.

Zimbabweans are desperate to get their hands on physical money; given that using it to pay for goods can get one a discount.

It’s hoped these new banknotes and coins, worth R2 and R5, will help to wean Zimbabweans off the use of the US dollar, which was banned for local transactions in June.

Customers are being limited to weekly withdrawals of just 300 Zimbabwe dollars. The authorities hope to release up to $1 billion worth of the new money in the coming months.

Some economists warn though that this new cash will likely end up trapped in the vast informal sector, whose operators don’t bank their takings.