What do bond notes mean to the ordinary Zimbabwean
Yesterday I received some money via Western Union and received a 5% import incentive in USD. That was a welcome bonus and I bough some much needed airtime with it. However, once the bond notes are released, the incentive will be in bond notes while you will receive your money in USD. That is what the guy at Western Union told me.
Unfortunately, currency and monetary transactions are based on trust. Can we trust Western Union to give us USD, when a lot of outlets are failing to pay people monies. Some branches of Western Union offer you a slot on a waiting list in order to receive the hard cash that was sent to you. Transactions via Western Union are said to be instant, so why is it that money sent takes days or weeks to get to the recipient. This creates a problem where customers can no longer trust a reputable international company.
The same issue goes with the banks. After deposting hard cash into the bank or getting paid into the bank, upon request to withdraw funds, one is given stringent conditions as to how, where and how much one can withdraw your own money. The bank as the custodian of customers funds, should not be in a position where they are not able to give customers their money upon request. It is shocking that international banks have been caught up in this sham and this has resulted in customers failing to trust their banking institutions.
These situations result in cash flight. Customers simply withdraw all their money from the banks and do not deposit any money into the banks. Once again, the banking sector is about to collapse. Economics is based on customers outlook and perceptions. Any uncertainty and insecurity in the market can have dire consequences in an economy. The threat of bond notes, is enough to cause the economy to go into a downward spiral. The fact that the market is rejecting the bond notes makes the situation even more complex. We can see what Brexit has done to the pound and the British economy. At every step of their move out of the EU, the British economy has responded adversely. If the strong robust British economy can struggle to normalize after Brexit, what hope do we have for Zimbabwe that is tittering on collapse after bond notes.
It is obvious that the going will be rough as shortages begin to be experienced. Fuel lines are beginning to crop up as there isn’t any forex to purchase fuel. Cooking oil and various other goods are already being rationed as the 2008 scenario becomes very real. It is hard to say how the bond notes will ease cash shortages as the RBZ says they will not be available from atm’s. Retailers will still require forex to purchase goods as Zimbabwe literally imports everything we consume.
The import incentive for exporters is a good idea, but how many will actually benefit from this incentive. There is very little goodwill for brand Zimbabwe globally and brand Zimbabwe is very hard to sell. Those in the mining sector and agricultural sector may benefit, but that is if their businesses do not depend on any foreign imports of spares, explosives and so on.
Times are set to get tough, it’s not going to get easier. How can things get better if the root cause of the problem has not been solved. The root cause is that Zimbabwe is importing everything, there is no production, there are no jobs and our nation is very hostile to investors. Legislators and the government have let Zimbabweans down by adamantly pursuing their own self interests. Is a 5% import incentive going to lure investors to Zimbabwe. On the contrary, investors will not touch Zimbabwe with a barge pole, what with the imminent release of bond notes. Even Zimbabweans are holding back from investing in their own country due to this uncertainty. Uncertainty is a sure way of killing an economy. Sustained uncertainty is a recipe for disaster.
To the normal Zimbabweans who have to queue for everything, bond notes probably mean back to queuing and shortages. The man on the street needs to brace for some rough waters, it is not going to be smooth sailing. Austerity measures are required, no more flashing money on unnecessary things. Eight years after the Great Recession, Zimbabwe is about to spiral downwards yet again. People have often said, can things get any worse, as Zimbabweans have have seen that things can get worse. All we can do save for demonstrating and facing the wrath of the forces, is to brace for hard times. Fasten your seatbelts, it is going to be a rocky ride. Hoarding money and food and all sorts will cushion a few for a while, but sooner or later reserves are going to dwindle. At least in 2008 people could cross boarders to go and buy food. This time around, food stuffs are not allowed into the country. As they say in Shona, ‘tichadya nhoko dzemakonzo’, translated, we shall eat rats droppings.
On a more optimistic note, I pray that God will come and save us because it seems that only God can save us. I have lost faith in Zimbabweans solving their own problems. Other countries arent going to solve them for us, as they say in Shona, nhamo yemumwe hairegerwe sadza, that is, another mans problems never stopped people from eaing. At this stage, I am of the firm belief that only God will save us. As my Nigerian brothers say, there is God ooo.
This is my take on bond notes. Please share any different perspectives.