ALMOST three years ago on June 24, 2019 the Finance and Economic Development minister, Mthuli Ncube issued Statutory Instrument (SI) 124 which partly stated thus: “Zimbabwe dollar to be the sole currency for legal tender purposes, with effect from the 24th of June, 2019, the British pound, United States dollar, South African rand, Botswana pula and any other foreign currency whatsoever shall no longer be legal tender alongside the Zimbabwe dollar in any transactions in Zimbabwe. Accordingly, the Zimbabwe dollar shall, with effect from the 24th June, 2019, but subject to section 3, be the sole legal tender in Zimbabwe in all transactions.”
Ever since the issue of the Zimbabwe dollar has been a hot potato after the currency continuously failed to justify its existence as the banned currencies pummelled it day-in and day-out. Even such foreign currencies as the Zambian kwacha are now much stronger than the Zimdollar, which is now in the throes of total rejection by the nation and government itself as the currency continues to dismally fail to stand up to abuse by inflationary pressures.
Of major concern under the circumstances is government’s dilly-dallying on the fate of this troubled currency. Already in intensive care, pronouncing its demise is proving a major challenge for Mthuli who would rather mumble: “In terms of the use of the US dollar and the Zimbabwe dollar, we often hear people say why don’t you just dollarise? We have already done that because as I speak, you and I do use US dollars in the shops, but we also use Zimbabwe dollars. We are using both currencies already so there is no problem.
“When you are going through a transition one day we will get to a point where we will only use the Zimbabwe dollar or a mono currency, but we are not there yet. We have no choice but to keep the two currencies.”
What boggles the mind is, Mthuli appears to be completely oblivious to the fact that the use of the US dollar alongside the Zimdollar is illegal as dictated by SI 124. He is comfortable to see “no problem” in us using the US dollar alongside the Zimdollar, yet this is very, very illegal.
What kind of policy confusion is that?
Mthuli and his government are adamantly refusing to dollarise, yet all fundamentals are pointing to dollarisation. It scares the hell out of us when a whole government tells us to do illegal things such as use of illegal currency.
We would much appreciate if Mthuli Ncube put it in writing in a Statutory Instrument that it is now legal to trade in US dollars. This would also protect workers from being abused by being paid in Zimdollars, which are now almost worthless.
As it is, if commodity traders and service providers start charging in US dollars and refuse to accept Zimdollars, Mthuli and his ilk would simply say: “No problem,” because there is nothing stopping them from doing so.
Government must religiously comply with the laws it enacts, otherwise there is no point creating laws it will not respect. We end up wondering whether the same government even respects the country’s supreme law, the Constitution.