Traders in Zimbabwe have resorted to repairing old US dollar notes for desperate customers.
Fresh new US dollar currency is not coming into the Southern African nation. And so dealers buy the tattered notes and make profits off the black market.
“I don’t care how torn it is, I take it. All I want to see is the serial number, the serial number should be visible on all the sides. Even if it’s shredded by rats, I take it, I do this every day that’s how I survive”, currency dealer, Albert Marombe said.
Many shops reject it, but market traders will often, with some negotiation, accept the glue-patched notes.
“The problem that we are meeting here is over change, every time we are buying here they don’t have enough change for US dollar. So it’s either we are forced to get these coupons or we get something that can compensate the difference”, Innocent Chirume, a shopper said.
Zimbabwe’s economy is so weak from de-industrialization, low investment, low exports and high debt. Currently, it does not generate an adequate inflow of fresh dollar notes badly needed for its largely dollarized local economy says Harare-based economist. John Robertson runs his own consulting firm, Robertson Economics.
“The main problem is that we do not have faith in our own currency, and so the Zimbabwe dollar that exist are now of such a low value we don’t want to carry them around because you need a large quantity just to buy a loaf of bread”, Robertson said.
The $1 notes are used by many people to buy their daily bread and other small purchases. The US dollar has dominated transactions in Zimbabwe since the country’s hyperinflation soared to more than 5 billion percent. This forced the government to abandon the local currency in 2009.
In 2019, the government re-introduced a Zimbabwe currency and banned foreign currencies for local transactions. The black market thrived, while the local currency quickly devalued.
In March this year, the government removed the dollar ban. The government says the practice is illegal and the police sometimes raid the currency traders, seizing their precious dollar notes and issuing fines.