Police threaten to arrest traders rejecting Zim dollar notes

A total of seven million Zimbabweans in rural and urban areas can't afford to meet all their food needs. (Philimon Bulawayo/REUTERS)

POLICE have warned people, particularly informal traders, that rejecting legal tender is breaking the law.

Informal traders are rejecting $2 and $5 bond notes as well as coins, money which the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has said is still legal tender.

Traders who include fresh produce markets and cash shops specialising in groceries, have been rejecting $2 and $5 bond notes as well as coins for the past few weeks.

They said their suppliers were not accepting the said denominations and the smaller denominations were giving them headaches in counting.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said a number of businesses countrywide were refusing to accept legal tender, which he described as problematic.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police has noted with concern that some business people especially informal traders are refusing to accept local currency (coins, $2 and $5 notes) which is legal tender.

“The police will not hesitate to enforce the law on anyone found to be disregarding the country’s laws especially during this lockdown period.

“The public is again urged to report such errant people for swift action to be taken,” he said.

Most of the suppliers say they have problems buying foreign currency on the black market using the said denominations, hence their rejection.

“When I pay for something that costs $1 000, if I have small denomination bond notes I’m charged a 30 percent premium, so it is safer not to take them at all,” one trader said.

Mr Shalima Muzive, a banana vendor in the city, said he struggles to use the money at fresh produce markets as it was being rejected.

“The $2 bond note is the most widely circulating denomination. when I accept it, I’m stuck with it,” he said.

Ms Susan Kurambwi-Chinoda who sells from City Hall taxi rank in Bulawayo said bulk airtime traders were not accepting the notes.

“I have tried many airtime bulk dealers but all day I have not been able to use this money. The next option is to just go to a supermarket and buy food or something else so that I dispose of it, but I will have lost business,” she said.

Meanwhile, Reserve Bank Governor John Mangudya said all notes issued were still legal tender.