HARARE – Bond notes rolled out by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe yesterday got a positive response from the transacting public, despite spirited attempts by some groups to discredit them. Initial scepticism in the morning turned to acceptance as the day progressed.
People in cities like Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo, Gweru and Kadoma said they wanted to give the new currency a chance.
Contrary to their expectations, bond notes were embraced by people who viewed them as the only solution to current cash shortages.
Service providers across all sectors of the economy welcomed the new notes that are pegged at 1:1 to the US dollar.
A few people on the informal market at Eastgate took advantage of the introduction of bond notes to change at a rate of 1:10 against the rand, which officially is trading at around 13 against the US dollar.
The Herald witnessed only one incident at Zuva Service Station at Sam Levy’s Village in Borrowdale, Harare, which was rejecting bond notes in the morning.
The service station only started accepting them in the afternoon after noticing that a news crew from this publication was taking pictures of fuel attendants rejecting bond notes.
Asked why they were refusing to accept bond notes, a fuel attendant said they were awaiting a specimen with security features of the notes from RBZ.
Banks were issuing out the bond notes alongside US dollars throughout the day and the general public accepted them.
Retail shops visited by The Herald were transacting in US dollars and bond notes inter-changeably.
There were a few cases where customers refused to take change in bond notes.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu said they were supportive of the bond notes.
“We went on a survey in the morning and the response we are getting is quite encouraging,” he said.
“There is no rejection of bond notes from our customers, contrary to those who were speculating that the new currency will be resisted by the public. Customers had waited for too long for the new currency and it has come as a relief to them.”
Mr Mutashu said they were supportive of any Government initiative meant to increase exports.
“The US dollar that people want does not grow on trees,” he said.
“Bond notes are there to help the public and also to boost production. We should do production so that we export and earn as much foreign currency as we can.”
Mr Mutashu said their members accepted bond notes and that if customers encountered any challenges they should contact them.
People who spoke to The Herald were excited about the new currency.
They said although it was too early to notice a difference, the currency would certainly ease cash shortages that had hit the country.
Mr Christopher Rwodzi who was denied use of the bond notes at Zuva Service station said: “Let’s expose these people who are rejecting a national currency. This will send a strong message to other would-be perpetrators. A fuel attendant at this service station who had a name tag written Thulani, told me that they had a directive not accept this ‘rubbish’. This currency is a legal tender and no one should refuse it in Zimbabwe and I am surprised by the behaviour of fuel attendants at this service station.”
Zuva Service Station chief operating officer Mr Zwelithini Mlotshwa yesterday said they had not issued any directive instructing their employees to reject bond notes.
“We know nothing about that directive,” he said. “That service station is not run by Zuva but it’s a franchise but there is no such directive from Zuva.”
One service station displayed two markedly different prices for the US dollar and the bond note despite the 1-on-1 rate set by the RBZ.
Mr Martin Manjengwa who withdrew bond notes at a bank in Harare’s central business district said: “We are happy that finally the bond notes are here. This is the first day with this currency in circulation, but we are hopeful that it is going to ease cash shortages.
“We do not have any reason to reject the currency when we are transacting in it the same way we do with the US dollar – that would be tantamount to sabotage. I withdrew the bond notes in the morning and so far I have been doing various transactions without any challenge.”
Mrs Tariro Makusha said the bond notes had come at the most opportune time.
“We were tired of waiting in long queues at banks and I am confident that with the coming of this new currency things are going to normalise,” she said.
“Most people were now sleeping at banks waiting to withdraw their money. I am hopeful that this new currency is going to address this situation. As long as the money is accepted in shops I don’t see any reason for rejecting it.”
Mr Danny Mandishona said an Econet shop at Sam Levy’s in Borrowdale rejected the bond notes when he wanted to buy data bundles.
“I wanted to buy data bundles at Sam Levy’s but a teller there called Onward said he needed to consult his boss first before accepting the notes. After making a phone call, he said his boss had informed him that they should not accept the bond notes because they did not know how to receipt them. I later on called the RBZ who told me that I was not the first one to make such a complaint against Econet. They said they were going to dispatch a team to investigate the matter.”
The RBZ released bond notes worth $10 million onto the market yesterday with the withdrawal limits set at $50 per day and $150 weekly.
The notes are in $2 and $5 denominations.
A new $1 bond coin has also been introduced.
In Chinhoyi, bond notes were met with mixed reaction with some shops and individuals rejecting them.
Major shops initially refused to take the bond notes with some of them such as TM accepting them as the day progressed.
OK Stores were adamant that they would not accept them by late afternoon yesterday.
Most Liquid Petroleum gas suppliers refused outrightly to accept the new notes.
Cashiers interviewed said they were not accepting the notes because they were not familiar with their security features.
“We do not know the security features so it becomes tricky as that leaves us prone to being given fake notes,” said one shop attendant.
Others said glitches were to be expected as this was a new system that was being introduced but said more should have been done to publicise them.
“Some of the resistance is due to genuine lack of understanding of what the bond notes are and what they look like,” said Mr Jameson Tevera.
The situation was the same in Bulawayo where many businesses adopted a wait and see approach. -Herald.