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Zimbabweans count losses after currency switch

By Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWE'S central bank said on Monday Z$10 trillion worth of old banknotes were not surrendered to authorities after last month's changeover to a new redenominated currency.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe last month lopped three zeros off the local dollar in a move aimed at taming hyperinflation, giving Zimbabweans until August 21 to exchange banknotes.

The Zimbabwean currency is now officially priced at 250 to the U.S. dollar, against 250,000 previously.

Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono said the currency swap was a success but that people were still holding on to 10 trillion Zimbabwe dollars of the phased-out notes.

"I can tell you that 10 trillion (in old banknotes) is still out there and it has become manure," Gono said during a meeting with women legislators. He did not give further details.

Individuals were barred from depositing more than Z$100 million in old notes in banks unless they could show that they acquired the funds legitimately, leaving many people holding large sums of cash.

Gono said trillions of Zimbabwe dollars had been stashed in homes and outside the country to facilitate black market deals.

The central bank says the redenominated currency makes life easier for Zimbabweans, who have had to carry huge piles of cash to make even the simplest purchases as a result of rampant inflation, which accelerated to an annualised 1,200 percent in August, the world's highest rate.

Gono repeated that the central bank would bring in a new currency but did not give a timetable. He has previously said the new currency would be introduced without prior warning - Reuters

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