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Currency change next week

Augustine Mukaro/ Kuda Chikwanda

THE Reserve bank of Zimbabwe is set to change the country’s currency in the first week of December in a programme codenamed “Sunri

se 2″ as a way of dealing with the current cash crisis.

The operation was supposed to have started on Wednesday this week but encountered last minute problems that required the attention of the central bank.

It is however expected that the new currency might be launched as early as tomorrow.

The change-over will require massive resources in both manpower and capital injection.

Highly placed sources said an RBZ management team led by Edward Mashiringwana, the acting RBZ governor, last Saturday met to finalise logistical issues, which they agreed required a minimum of three days instead of the 48 hours initially suggested.

“The change-over is likely to take place beginning tomorrow (Saturday),” one source said.

The source said the RBZ would deploy a minimum of five teams in each district in the country, which implies that around 295 teams would be deployed to cover the 59 districts.

“Each province (of RBZ operational teams) has submitted a proposal for 32 vehicles, which means that about 1 888 vehicles will be required for the operation,” he said.

The recruitment of retired police officers to provide security for the operation started on Monday as the central bank entered the final stages before the currency switch.

Shortlisted officers were informed during the weekend to report for duty on Monday and receive their briefing on the operation.

“I was told to report for duty on Monday. We were supposed to have been informed of the allowances we would get then,” said one officer who was shortlisted.

A severe cash shortage has hit the country for the past four weeks, forcing hundreds of people to spend days and nights on queues outside banks trying to withdraw money.

RBZ governor Gideon Gono last week blamed the shortages on speculation by foreign currency dealers. He said dealers were keeping huge amounts of money at home.

He said as long as people stashed large amounts of money at home, thus starving banks of cash, he would not inject new money into the system. Gono threatened to introduce a new currency in a bid to force the public to bring back money into the official system.

Several commercial banks which under normal circumstances permit individuals to withdraw $20 million and corporate account holders a maximum of $40 million a day have since reduced these limits to $5 million and $10 million respectively since the beginning of the cash crisis at the end of October.

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