Cash shortages dampen HIFA

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THE curtain came down on the country’s premium arts and culture festival, the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) on Sunday with organisers saying the cash shortages in the country adversely impacted the event.
HIFA Executive Director, Maria Wilson, told in an interview that although those that came had a wonderful experience, audiences this year were far less than the previous years due to the crippling cash shortages in the country.
“I think the audience numbers are less and I think that what that is a sign of is less disposable income,” said Wilson.
“So, do you choose to buy a HIFA ticket or do you choose to buy food for the children; and that is as fundamental as that. I am just sorry as a Zimbabwean that we are being faced with such problems financially.
“Most Zimbabweans have had to take salary cuts so we now have much less money. We have had to take cuts in salaries for people to keep their jobs, so if you have a salary cut you will not have much disposable income.”
Wilson said Steward Bank, which partnered HIFA for the first time this year, had however, made life much easier for some audiences by coming up with a HIFA card that allowed them to make purchases in the festival without having to use cash.
“What they have enabled people to do is pay by card. You could pay by card anywhere in the HIFA, you could transfer the money from your bank straight into the card.  So, it helps, the banks have come to the festival and said we can help and it has helped.”
Zimbabwe has been experiencing cash shortages over the past year with banks failing to cope with their clients, some giving as little as $40 per week.
The country has been using a basket of foreign currencies, mainly the United States Dollar, which has since disappeared.
The injection of bond notes by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, John Mangudya has failed to address the cash crisis as the surrogate currency has also become scarce. Some banks were now giving clients coins.Advertisement