‘Local Zimbabwe currency long overdue’ – Analysts

HARARE – The current uptake of about 85 percent in transactions using the local RTGS systems is a clear sign Zimbabwe is now nearing the stage where it might be convenient to introduce a new local currency.

Economic analysts say conditions are now favourable for the re-introduction of a local currency, which will ensure a real and practical gauge of economic performance.

The observers further argue that the country can no longer continue relying on a multi-currency regime, which has, in recent times, triggered economic distortions.

The basket of currencies was adopted in 2009 after the country had gone through a phase of economic decline.

Speaking at a currency reforms breakfast meeting hosted by the Business Economic Empowerment Forum in the capital, economist Mr Persistent Gwanyanya said authorities need to push for a “good-bye” to the multi-currency system.

“The foreign currency, in the country, should be channelled towards other priority areas so that we industrialise,” he said.

“The best way to go is to use our own currency, which is the trend all over the world. If we look at strides that have been made in the fiscal front, conditions are ripe for our own currency.”

Mr Gwanyanya added that, last year, Zimbabwe generated US$6,2 billion, which was the highest in history.

He also said a record US$4,2 billion, in exports, was recorded in 2018.

“When we adopt a local currency, the available foreign currency will be channelled towards importation of goods and other developmental projects,” explained Mr Gwanyanya.

“We already have a pseudo local currency in the form of RTGS and the only way that money can work is through complete abandonment of other currencies.

“The difference between now and the difficult period around 2008 is that, currently, the pseudo local currency is on demand in the economy as 85 percent of local transactions are in RTGS and this is the right condition needed to support a new currency.”

Mr Gwanyanya added that instilling confidence and fiscal discipline was key in the introduction of the new currency.

On the adoption of the rand Mr Gwanyanya said while South Africa was Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner, the revenue inflows were in United States dolars.

“More than 85 percent of our exports come from five commodities which are gold, tobacco, platinum, chrome and diamond,” he said.

“These are marketed mainly through South Africa, but eventually the ultimate takers are outside South Africa and the payments are in US dollars.”

Another economic analysts Mr Eddie Cross also said pointers were that it was not feasible to adopt the Rand.

“Any discussion on the Rand, as means for primary exchange in Zimbabwe, is really that majority of our people have rejected it,” he said.

“We notice that the Rand is used commonly in Matabeleland because of the large population of Zimbabweans from that side who are in South Africa.

“To be accepted in the Rand Union, there are also some conditions to be met and our economic fundamentals are far adrift from those conditions.”

Addressing Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-national Cooperation in Harare in March, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube said it was not necessary to opt into the Rand Union as modalities for a local currency had been put in place.