Bond notes crisis sparks panic buying
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya was yesterday forced to assure the country that there will be no shortage of basic commodities as Harare residents moved to stock up amid fears of further loss of bond notes’ value.
Mangudya said the panic buying that resulted in empty shelves at supermarkets in the capital was being fuelled by “fake news” on social media.
“The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe wishes to advise the public that social media messages that are circulating and suggesting that there are going to be shortages of basic commodities in Zimbabwe are false and malicious,” the governor said in a statement.
“These messages are meant to cause anxiety, panic, alarm and despondency to the unsuspecting and peace-loving members of the public.
“All such false and malicious statements should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve.
“Peddling of such fake news is quite unfortunate. There are no shortages of basic commodities in Zimbabwe.”
Mangudya said the central bank had actually increased the allocation of foreign currency to companies that produce basic commodities.
He claimed the resurgence of the parallel market for foreign currency was not fuelled by the surrogate currency introduced by the RBZ in November last year.
“It is also important to appreciate that foreign exchange premiums are caused by the mismatch between the US dollar bank balances and the physical foreign currency available in the economy,” he said.
“Premiums on the parallel markets are not caused by bond notes or electronic payment systems.
“Zimbabweans should therefore not be hoodwinked by fake social media statements designed to increase premiums on the parallel markets by rent seekers.”
Mangudya also dismissed rumours that the RBZ was preparing to print more bond notes.
“The Bank also wishes to advise that neither it nor the ministry of Finance and Economic Development will print bond notes to buy US dollars from the streets as suggested in social media and other reports,” he said.
“Such malicious statements are counterproductive and are meant to sabotage the economy that is on the rebound on account of the good agricultural outturn, strong performance of the mining sector and the recovery of the manufacturing sector.”
Meanwhile, a number of shoppers in Harare yesterday said they were stocking up basic commodities as they feared a repeat of the 2008 hyperinflation era where supermarket shelves were empty for several months.
“I am not sure if there is any truth into this [shortage of basic commodities], but I cannot risk it. That is why I have bought all this stuff to stock up for my family,” said a woman who only identified herself as Jennifer from Braeside.
Brian Chitanda from Ardbennie said he received a message on the WhatsApp platform warning about the alleged impending shortage of basic commodities.
“We saw the WhatsApp [message] yesterday and everyone is panicking; but if you do not panic, you might wake up tomorrow with nothing in the shops. So, it’s safer to buy right now than suffer tomorrow,” he said.
Wholesalers recorded brisk business as some customers were even travelling from places outside Harare to buy at “reasonable prices” following an upsurge in costs of basic goods in the recent past.
“I heard about the impending shortage three days ago, so when I got the chance I decided to rush to Harare to buy groceries as I can manage to buy now,” Alex Munyoso from Guruve said.
“In Guruve prices are too high and fuel is now scarce as well.
“We are not sure what will happen the following days from today so we are scared because the whole of this year we have not been getting money at the banks.”
The introduction of the bond notes has failed to end the cash shortages that began in 2015.
BY EVERSON MUSHAVA/KENNEDY NYAVAYA