Bond coins meet stiff resistance

THERE is continued stubborn resistance to the recently introduced bond coins despite repeated assurances by both Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya that the coins were legal tender.

Kudzai Kuwaza

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) introduced imported bond coins which started circulating on December 18 last year to deal with the shortage of small change especially in retail outlets where customers were forced to buy small items like sweets or pens, or got credit coins in lieu of change.

The coins were distributed by the RBZ through normal banking channels in denominations of 1c, 5c, 10c and 25c, while the 50c coin will be introduced by March this year.

But the imported coins face formidable resistance.

A teller at a service station outlet in Graniteside refused to accept bond coins as payment for confectionery bought by Zimbabwe Independent staff on Wednesday, making it clear that they only accepted rand coins.

The problem is also widespread among commuter omnibus operators, vendors and small business outlets, most of whom refuse payment in bond coins. Although major retail outlets such as OK Zimbabwe, Bon Marche and TM Supermarkets accept the coins as payment, customers still prefer to receive change in rand coins.

In a leading supermarket in the city centre, a customer yesterday bluntly told one of the tellers that he wanted “real money” as change, referring to the rand coin denominations and not “the fake James Bond money”, meaning bond coins.

Economist John Robertson believes the government erred in calling the currency “bond coins”, as it drives home the point that the coins are not backed by real money.

“The government cannot command respect with coins that are backed by nothing. Currencies are backed by stability and prosperity of the economy,” said Robertson.