Multi-currency ditch meant to protect civil servants, says Ncube

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By Paidashe Mandivengerei

FINANCE Minister, Mthuli Ncube has defended government’s shock abandonment of the multi-currency system, adding this was also inspired by the need to protect civil servants from local businesses that were now demanding foreign currency for goods and services.

He was speaking to the State broadcaster following the move announced through Statutory Instrument 142 of 2019 on Monday.

The Treasury boss said the decision to stick to the RTGS dollar for local transactions also followed a meeting he and President Emmerson Mnangagwa have had with civil servants who are up in arms they were being paid in RTGS dollars in an economy that has virtually dollarised.

“What was happening in the market is that the market was self US dollarising; it was uncontrollable and we felt that this would bring the situation under control,” he said.

“A few days ago, I had a meeting with the association of teachers in the country along with His Excellency (Mnangagwa) and ministers and they made it very clear to us that the multi-currency regime has become a US regime.

“They (teachers) don’t earn in US dollars, they cannot afford to buy things in shops, they cannot pay for medicines and healthcare services when hospitals and clinics were demanding US dollars.”

In an interview with Bloomberg this past week, President Mnangagwa said the country would reintroduce the local currency within the next nine months.

But Ncube, in his Monday comments, said the decision to bring the resolution forward was in attempts to help the general populace which was at the mercy of what he found were unscrupulous businesses.

“It became necessary for government to move a lot faster and introduce a mono currency regime with the domestic currency which comprises of RTGS$ as before as well as bond note and bond coin.

“Anyone who wants to buy goods or pay for services within the borders of Zimbabwe ought to go to a bank, bureau de change to change their foreign currency into domestic currency and spend that. That’s what all countries do.”

The decision to abandon the multi-currency regime for the local currency has created fresh unease in the country as the bond note currency is fast depreciating in terms of its value when compared to the much stable US dollar.