Harare – Depositors with indigenous banks in Zimbabwe are spending nights in bank queues as the cash crisis in the country deepens.
People who spoke to the African News Agency in different interviews Thursday narrated how they spent nights on end on pavements in the central business district in Harare hoping to get their hard earned cash from the banks.
The most affected banks are Central Africa Building Society (CABS), People’s Own Savings Bank (POSB) and FBC among other local banks.
“I came from Chawona in Mazowe, but now I don’t have transport money to return home. I only had enough to get me here hoping that I would get my money and be able to go back home,” said a pensioner who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He said he had been to all POSB branches in the CBD and was told there was no cash and was no hope of getting it on the very day.
“I first went to the NetOne branch and we were told there was no money, we went to the Takawira/Union branch and there was also no money, they said they might get some money tomorrow.
“When I came here I was given a number in the morning and we have been sitting here all day without getting anything. Now I’m hungry and thirsty and I don’t have even a penny to buy myself something to eat or drink,” he said.
The man, in his late sixties, said if he failed to get the money, he had no option but to sleep on the pavements as he could not go back home because he did not have any cash on him.
“If I don’t get the money again today I will just find somewhere to sleep and try again tomorrow; there is nothing I can do, i don’t have money to go back home,” he said.
Another man, who also requested not to be identified, said he had come from his rural home in Mt Darwin on Monday and had not managed to get a cent.
“There is nothing back home, the family has nothing to eat and we have no money for transport. Today I walked from Epworth where I was put up because I no longer have any bus fares. We left Epworth at 2:30 am and arrived here when it was still a bit dark” he said.
He said no one from the bank had even explained anything to them, saying they were just waiting and hoping that one day they would get some money.
“We have been sitting here since morning and we are no longer sure if we’ll ever get the money, we are all starving now and we are going to sleep on empty stomachs,” he said.
At the CABS First Street branch, a few people were still milling around hoping that the bank would receive some cash before the close of business, while the doors to the ATM were locked.
“I have been here since morning and they told us that they have not yet received any money, but they have not told us what time or when they are expecting the money. I first went to the Central Avenue branch but I was told they only served 400 people per day and there were already more than 400 people when I arrived,” said a man from Domboshava.
He said he was given number 27 at the First street branch and had been waiting the whole morning without luck.
“I will wait here until three and if there is no money I will return home to Domboshava but I don’t know if i will be able to come back because I don’t have any bus fare anymore. I came here on Tuesday and got just $100 and it is not enough,” he said.
Traditional leaders were also not spared as evidenced by Headman Mazingizi from Guruve who spent three nights at a POSB branch in Harare.
“They are saying there is no money and we have been coming here everyday for the past three days and failing to get any money,” he said.
He expressed concern that his subjects did not have a representative during the time he was in Harare waiting for his money, adding he was contemplating going back empty handed as he had lost any hope of getting anything.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Deputy Governor, Khupukile Mlambo, told a National Economic Consultative Forum meeting in Harare last week that the cash shortages would only end if the country increased manufacturing for export.
He said the depreciation in value of both the South Africab rand and the British Pound, coupled with the end of the tobacco selling season, had exacerbated the liquidity crisis.
“We are no longer an economy that is dependent on manufacturing exports, we are totally dependent on the four commodity exports; tobacco, gold,platinum and chrome and these are not performing well,” he said.