Browsing: Dollarization

Zimbabwe’s economic and currency woes run much deeper than the finance minister can allude to. For starters, the country heavily relies on imports; it produces little in the form of manufactured goods for exports. This means that the country’s means of generating income in the form of foreign exchange consist largely of producing and selling raw goods with no value addition.

This phenomenon constrains the country’s ability to generate the foreign exchange it is in desperate need of to help underscore the value of its currency. This is perhaps the biggest stumbling block to the universal adoption and warm reception of the Zimbabwe dollar.

Zimbabwe’s citizens have had unpleasant experiences with the Zimbabwe dollar even before it collapsed in 2009. The country’s citizens have seen numerous bank failures with their savings and receiving no compensation for their losses. This was in 2004 when the banking crisis claimed the scalps of all but a handful of local/indigenous banks. In 2006 the central bank raided the foreign currency accounts of the largest exporters in the country. The foreign exchange, it is said, was used to finance the government and political expenditures.

Despite these fundamentals, the Zimbabwe dollar has continued to slide against the United States dollar prompting the government to take drastic and unprecedented measures last month which culminated in the prohibition of bank lending (albeit temporarily), the prohibition of third-party international payments, the prohibition of third-party payments to stockbrokers and the introduction of taxes which can be viewed as punitive for investors on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

Prior to these stringent measures, the monetary authorities had instituted a policy called willing buyer willing seller to try and narrow the gap between the official foreign currency exchange rate and the parallel market foreign currency exchange rate. This gap between the 2 exchange rates reached its peak in the first week of May 2022 at 153% according to a Zimbabwe publication called the Business Weekly.

The premium between the parallel market rate and the official rate has reduced somewhat to 60%. The attempt to get the foreign exchange rates to converge set the parallel market rate raging and it has since breached the ZWL$ 500/US$ 1 mark in the first week of June 2022.

If you received your salary on the 1st of January in ZWL, you would struggle to pay for goods and services in February. This volatile situation results in consumers seeing value eroded from their bank balances at an astonishing rate.

We see wages struggle to keep up with inflation, a phenomenon similar to 2008. Most people buy USD from the black market to retain some semblance of value in these balances.

Zimbabwe has a currency crisis, and the Authorities seem to be struggling to deal with it. The rate at which the Zimbabwe dollar is depreciating signifies the state of the economy. Much of this is being blamed on the countries foreign currency auction system.