MASVINGO-Chronic cash shortages continued today in Zimbabwe, with just a day after the country’s central bank increased the maximum withdrawal limits at banks.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono bowed down to mounting to pressure from a protesting labour body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), over his deliberate squeeze on the money supply system, thereby introducing new $100, $50 and $10 million notes early this week.
The ZCTU also demanded unlimited access to depositors’ cash to allow people to travel for the Christmas Holidays.
Individuals can now access $100 million per week, up from a paltry $500 000 per day, while companies now get $50 million in the same period.
But most banks in the city have been overwhelmed by the huge cash demand, as long and winding queues formed as early as six in the morning, blocking traffic, and had not been cleared by mid-day, leaving some depositors stranded.
A big banner, ‘Sorry, We Have No Cash” hung up at the Central Africa Building Society (CABS) in town, while at the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ), People’s Own Savings Bank (POSB), and Beverly Building Society, very few clients had been served.
The same situations abound at Intermarket, and First Bank which had run out of cash by noon.
Foreign-owned financial institutions like The Standard Chartered Bank and Barclays maintained a constant supply of the cash.
“We are waiting for the money from the RBZ,” a senior manager with CABS revealed
“It is so bad the central bank boss increased the limits when there are no notes. Some slept outside the bank, but we have not yet been served by now,” he added off record.
Armed riot police maintained a heavy presence in the streets following an orgy of violence early this week by soldiers riled by their failure to get cash, thereby looting goods in the capital Harare.
The new notes come months of a cash squeeze on the financial market that saw little cash being in circulation, as the previous $500 000 daily limit had become insufficient to buy a loaf of bread.