Johannesburg – A snap survey by the Zimbabwe Independent has found that there is a biting cash shortage which has forced banks to lower their daily automated teller machine (ATM) withdrawal limits from $3 000 to $800, the newspaper reported on Friday.
The newspaper added some locally-owned banks had long suspended dispensing cash at most of their ATMs, with a government-owned bank going without ATM transactions since the festive season in an effort to manage the cash shortage.
The Zimbabwean market is reported to usually experience cash shortages during the festive season when civil servants, who constitute the bulk of the formal workforce in the country, receive their December salaries plus their annual bonuses.
But the situation is said to have gotten worse last year, starting late November, according to the newspaper.
Banks were also reported to have suspended interconnectivity through ZimSwitch, an electronic payment platform for local banks, at their ATMs or for specific banks.
A banker who spoke to the Independent, on condition of anonymity, confirmed banks had suspended transactions on ZimSwitch to reserve cash only for their customers.
“What we are simply doing as banks is we are saying let’s stop giving money to everyone with a ZimSwitch ready card and preserve it only for our internal clients until the situation normalises,” said the banker.
Zimbabwe adopted a multiple currency regime that is dominated by the US dollar in 2009 after a decade of hyperinflation and economic stagnation.
The Zimbabwe dollar was demonetised last year and the country recently adopted the Chinese yuan after Beijing confirmed it would cancel $40 million in debts.