Zimbabwean police have forcibly dispersed crowds protesting against plans by the central bank to re-introduce local banknotes in the country which is suffering from a harsh economic downturn.
Police fired tear gas and water canon on the crowd that numbered around 100 marching through the streets of the capital Harare. They were heading towards the central bank before the riot police dispersed the procession.
A similar protest earlier this month by unemployed graduates and a group denouncing a government plan to introduce bond notes in the face of dollar scarcity was also dispersed by police wielding batons and firing water canons.
We do not intend to adopt a single currency, but we will continue to bolster the strength of the multi-currency system.
Bond notes are currency notes that are supposed to have the same value as the dollar.The government has failed to pay salaries of workers due to cash shortages.
Citizens are worried about the Zimbabwe Central Bank’s plans to introduce banknotes also referred to as bond notes, in October with the aim of easing acute dollar shortage.
Their fear stems from the possibility of the move leading to rampant money printing as happened eight years ago when inflation hit 500% wiping out people’s savings and pensions.
The Zanu-PF government has in the recent past faced a number of anti-government protests from different quarters. The agitations are largely against the worsening economic conditions in the country.
The Zimbabwean government has said months back that it would not adopt a sole official trading unit. According to the Finance and Economic Development Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, the government would maintain a multi-currency regime.
‘‘We do not intend to adopt a single currency, but we will continue to bolster the strength of the multi-currency system,’‘ the minister said.
He said the bond notes would not be imposed on anyone who did not want to use them, adding that their introduction would not mean the return of the Zimbabwean dollar either. He also said that the issuance of the notes would be consistent with export receipts.