AN icy cold moved into Zimbabwe this week with night time temperatures dropping to three degrees Celsius in my home town, sending us running to the markets looking for warm clothing. “Only US$10 Ma’am,” the vendor said at the market as she looked through her racks of second-hand warm jackets for one to my liking.

We joked and laughed as I suggested she call her jackets “pre-loved” as opposed to second-hand and she liked that idea a lot. The search went on for the perfect jacket. A little poppet was sitting behind her Mum on a thick blanket, wrapped up and toasty warm. I bent down to the little girl and she was shy but giggly as I asked her name and after checking with her mother, I offered the little girl a few jelly- tot sweeties. Shopping like this warms your heart, regardless of the temperature, you know you are helping someone to survive with every purchase you make and it’s such a small thing to do to add a few more dollars for their lunch too.

Last week, clothing giant Edgars said it had lost its business to runners (cross-border traders), flea markets and car boutiques.

Two months after our new currency was released, I finally had a ZiG10 note and two coins in my hand this week, one was a ZiG2 coin and the other a ZiG5 coin.  They weren’t mine, I borrowed them so I could take a photograph of them because that’s exactly how rare our new currency is.

Two months ago, the central bank governor John Mushayavanhu said: “The President instructed me not to print money without reserves” and with those words we staggered on.

Coins denominated at ZiG1, 2 and 5 were released along with a ZiG10 note (worth 75 cents), but they were so few and far between that most people still haven’t seen them two months later. As I write, the central bank still hasn’t released the ZiG20, 50, 100 and 200 notes, saying it wants to choke the black market and keep inflation at bay. In fact it’s done exactly the opposite as prices soar so that importers can replenish their supplies.

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Looking at the bank note and two ZiG coins in my hand, it took a while to work out exactly how much I was holding: the equivalent of US$1,27, not worth even half a cup of coffee. Can you imagine living in a country where the biggest bank note in circulation is only worth 75 cents, it’s utterly absurd. A litre of fuel is US$1,65, so the biggest bank note isn’t even enough for half a litre of diesel. - Friend