The new Zimbabwean currency, Zimbabwe Gold, or ZiG (for Zimbabwe Gold), had a chaotic start on Tuesday March 9, with most stores only accepting US dollars and queues outside banks lengthening in vain to obtain the new tickets, noted an AFP journalist.

Zimbabwe’s gold officially entered circulation on Monday, following the Central Bank’s announcement on Friday that the new currency was replacing the Zimbabwean dollar, whose value collapsed in 2023, leading to soaring inflation.

With only a weekend to prepare, most banks in the country suspended all their systems to organize the transition to ZiG. Hundreds of people waited in vain for hours hoping to withdraw money or simply have their funds.

“I spent the whole morning waiting for the bank to work again,” a customer lamented to AFP. But nothing to do, blocked. And no idea when the systems will be up and running again. »

Deep economic crisis

In a suburb of Harare, children were playing in the street with wads of Zimbabwean dollars, which overnight lost all value. In the capital’s central business district, notes were left on the sidewalks, with no one bothering to pick them up.

On Saturday, the Central Bank said the new banknotes were still being printed and would only be available from April 30. On public transport, passengers wanting to pay in Zimbabwean dollars were stuck, with a flat rate of one dollar, double the usual price, being introduced.

“We are wronged,” said George Goliati, a regular passenger from a Harare suburb. Some stores and street vendors, running out of coins, gave change with the equivalent of the amount in biscuits or candies.

The local currency has lost almost 100% of its value against the US dollar over the past year. The government is counting on the launch of Zimbabwe’s gold to combat hyperinflation and stabilize the country’s economy.

Zimbabwe has been plagued for twenty years by a deep economic crisis marked by shortages of money and food. Zimbabwe’s estimated 16 million people experience widespread poverty and high unemployment.