Zimbabwe will re-introduce a local currency “in less than 12 months”, after using the US dollar and regional currencies since a hyperinflation crisis a decade ago, the finance minister said in an interview published on Saturday.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from long-time ruler Robert Mugabe and won a disputed election in July, has pledged to revive the economy and mend fences with former allies in the west after years of international isolation.
“On the issue of raising enough foreign currency to introduce the new currency, we are on our way already, give us months not years,” state-owned Herald newspaper quoted Finance Minister Mtuli Ncube as saying.
Asked for a timeline for the currency reform, the minister said it would be in “less than 12 months”.
Zimbabwe adopted a basket of foreign currencies in 2009 after hyperinflation, which saw some businesses increasing prices several times a day, rendered the local Zimbabwe dollar unusable.
The southern African nation’s economy has been in a downturn for more than a decade with shortages of cash, high unemployment and the government struggling to pay its workers.
The country was thrown into panic after Ncube introduced a two percent tax on all electronic transactions as part of new measures to increase revenue.
Shortages of basic commodities resurfaced and prices shot up – and in some cases more than doubled within weeks.
The shortages hit pharmacies with some running out of essential drugs for chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension and accepting payment only in foreign currency.
Motorists spend hours in long queues waiting to buy fuel. Doctors in state hospitals went on strike for more than a month in December saying the price hikes had eroded their earnings and teachers announced a strike this week demanding to be paid in US dollars.