President Robert Mugabe this week used his presidential powers to formally introduce bond notes, a surrogate currency which his government hopes will ease the shortage of the United States dollar, which is currently the country’s major currency.
However, though the move has long been in the pipeline, the ultimate introduction of the notes was received with skepticism and panic due to fear that the government could be bringing back the much dreaded Zim dollar through the back door.
Zimbabwe dollarised in 2009 to tame hyperinflation which peaked at 500 billion at the height of a political and economic turmoil in 2008.
The country has however experienced an acute shortage of US dollar notes since the beginning of the year due to near non-existence of trade with other countries.
Bond notes will be introduced in $2 and$5 notes then eventually $10 and $20 notes.
The central bank is expected to bring the local currency into circulation once they are satisfied about the public awareness of the notes security features.
Though knowing that there isn’t much they can do about the imminent circulation of bond notes, Zimbabweans took to Twitter to vent their anger on the introduction of what some called the funny currency.
Trending under the #NoToBondNotes, many lamented the negative effects of the bond notes on the already ailing economy with one Shamiso saying; The bond notes are meant to further impoverish the masses and enable them to use the US$ for their shopping sprees abroad, in apparent reference to first lady, Grace Mugabe who is known for her love of shopping overseas.
Another Twitter user, under the name Nguvayakwana wrote; “The introduction of the bondnotes will soon lead to empty supermarket shelves, it might start at Choppies” while Gidza WaGidzaldo wrote; “Wonder if Mugabe and his family will be using bond notes to pay for their treatment in Singapore”.
This is because bond notes can only circulate in Zimbabwe.
What has also irked the public is that the government has said people may deposit their cash in US$ but must not expect to get it in return and that everyone should accept whatever currency they get from the bank.
“We all knew where this was leading to…govt says creditors must accept bond notes. Zim dollar back by force,” continued Gidza WaGidzaldo while Tau Moyo wrote; “Silence is our greatest betrayal, we are betraying ourselves by keeping silent”.
Meanwhile, local newspaper, Newsday reports that lawyers, Tendai Biti and Lovemore Madhuku are preparing a legal application to challenge the legality of the Statutory Instrument, arguing it is unconstitutional.
Biti, a former Finance minister under the Government of National Unity, said Mugabe’s move was illegal, adding the government had six months to introduce the use of bond notes through Parliament, rather than use an unlawful Presidential decree, which could only be applied in cases of a state of emergency.
“The President is not Parliament and in a democracy, where there is separation of powers, one man cannot make the law,” he said