A nice idea

3 02 2015

Towards the end of last year Zimbabwe was abuzz with the news that bond coins were going to be introduced. The news was not well received and, despite strong denial from the Reserve Bank, rumours abounded that it was an attempt by the government to reintroduce the Zimbabwe dollar. I had seen one or two but up until today had not actually received any as change.

Small change

Small change

Small change is in notoriously short supply in Zimbabwe. South African coins (2 RAND lower right) have been useful in that they are roughly 1/10 the value of a dollar (so the 2 RAND coin is valued at 20c) but obviously they have to be bought at least the face value plus some sort of commission. The bond coins, which are minted in South Africa, are pegged at equal to the US dollar though they have no value outside the country. They certainly cost less to produce than their face value. A nice idea and certainly preferable to receiving ball point pens or sweets as change which was the case. People receiving lots of coins, such as the mini bus drivers, can go and change the coins at the end of the day for paper money at a bank. Except, as Shelton tells me, most refuse to accept them.

The honesty oasis

26 01 2012

“50c?” I asked, incredulous*.
“Yes, 50c” the shopkeeper replied.
“Why don’t you just make it a dollar?”
“Because there are other things here that do cost a dollar so that would be dishonest” he said.
“Well, this is Zimbabwe so while in Africa…” I replied attempting to make a joke of it but he had no apparent sense of humour.
I took a closer look at the zip I’d bought. There was no name brand on it.
“So I guess this will last about as long as I’d expect for 50c” I postulated.
“It’s not a bad zip” he replied. “I have tried them out”.
“So what do you do about the change?” I asked.
“I usually have it” came the reply as he dug into the change drawer and gave me a R5 coin which is actually worth 60c but I was not going to quibble. On Wednesday I was given change for a milkshake for 50c in US coins and South African rand coins. I did wonder how many zips he would have to sell to make it worth his while but the shop has been in the Mount Pleasant shopping complex for as long as I can remember so I guess they have got their maths right.

(* the US dollar is the de facto currency of Zimbabwe though it does vary by region: in Bulawayo, further to the south, the South African rand is more popular)