The queue for the bank is several days long

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet
11 April 2018
By Farai Mutsaka

Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has not one, but ten different currencies – and currency chaos rules the country. The days of hyperinflation might be over, but the new president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded Mugabe this autumn, has a difficult challenge in sorting out the economy.

Outside the bank Cabs in Harare, the queue is over a kilometre. Many have brought blankets to keep warm, having spent the night. To prevent fights, security guards have given queue tickets to the first 50 people.

-The rest of you will have to see if there is cash left when you arrive, he shouts dismissively.

The cash point nearby only serves to show account balance nowadays.

 

Since the hyperinflation of 2009, there are officially ten foreign currencies used for payments in Zimbabwe. But still, the lack of cash is one of the main everyday challenges. Forcing the world’s oldest president, Robert Mugabe, to leave office in November 2017 has hitherto not made a difference.

-The new president promised to change the situation, but as you can see we still have to spend the night in the queue to get cash out, says Ashley Chikwenezve who is number 20 in the queue.

But even spending the night isn’t a guarantee. Sometimes in the morning, the bank announces it will not dispense cash that day. But today seems to be a lucky day.

-The first people who entered came out carrying cash, so I have a good chance, Ashley says.

 Another customer, Tatendeka Sithole, comes carrying a plastic bag full of 25, 10, and 5 cent coins.

-Soon I’ll have to be a weightlifter in order to bring my money, she says laughing.

After spending the night in the queue she was among the first to get served and could withdraw the maximum daily allowance of 50 dollars. Tatendeka Sithole wraps the bag in a yellow raincoat.

-I brought it in case it would rain during the night, she says.

Her children’s school attendance depends on Tatendeka’s nights in the bank queue. Public transport doesn’t accept card or mobile phone payments.

-My children can only get to school if we have cash.

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet, 11 April 2018. Full article (in Swedish) here: https://www.svd.se/har-koar-de-till-banken–i-flera-dygn

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