Banks ration cash as demand soars

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Some banks were yesterday forced to put a cap on maximum withdrawals as the demand for cash reached unprecedented levels ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Thousands of people have been thronging banks since Monday this week to withdraw money in a bid to make last-minute preparations.

Civil servants in Bulawayo were yesterday given limits on the money they could withdraw from their December salaries with some being turned away and asked to return today as cash shortages resurfaced.

But the Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe president John Mushayavanhu yesterday again appealed to members of the public not to panic and make use of automated machines (ATMs) wherever possible.

“There has been an unprecedented demand for cash this year.

“The amount of cash that has been withdrawn so far during this period is three times more than that of December last year,” said Mushayavanhu, who was not in a position to give exact details.

“We are getting cash from South Africa. People should not panic.

“Somehow, everyone wants to withdraw their money.

“As we have said, people should make use of their ATM cards to purchase goods in supermarkets.”
Commenting on the withdrawal cap by some banks Mushayavanhu said: “The rationale is to ensure everybody gets money.

However, anybody who has money in their account will be able to access it.”

Early in the week some banks were reportedly refusing to honour withdrawals of more than $10 000.

In Bulawayo, the government-owned People’s Own Savings Bank, which has a huge civil servants client base, has for the past week been battling with long queues of civil servants and pensioners wanting to withdraw their savings ahead of Christmas.

Some of the account holders said the bank was encouraging them to withdraw a maximum of $200 and the rest after the holidays.

By yesterday afternoon the bank had closed its doors after cash ran out and clients were told to return today to make their withdrawals ahead of Christmas tomorrow.

“We were instructed to make withdrawals of $200 or less and not more than that and we will get the rest next week,” one of the clients at the bank said. Some of the people seen hanging around the bank said they had been told that there is no cash anymore.

“The bank has closed because they have run out of cash. We will be coming back again tomorrow (today) to try and make withdrawals. Maybe we will be returning later to hold places in the queue,” one of them said.