ZiG fails to solve change woes

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) recently introduced the Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) as the official currency, a move aimed at stabilising prices and the exchange rate.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) recently introduced the Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) as the official currency, a move aimed at stabilising prices and the exchange rate.

Backed by foreign exchange reserves, precious metals, and valuable minerals, the ZiG was presented as a solution to Zimbabwe’s longstanding economic woes.

However, a month into its implementation, the ZiG is failing to address one of the country’s most persistent problems — the change fiasco.

For years, Zimbabweans have struggled with a severe shortage of small change, leading to widespread frustration among consumers and businesses alike.

The introduction of the ZiG promised to alleviate this issue by providing a stable and reliable currency. Yet, the reality on the ground paints a different picture.

The persistent problem

Despite the introduction of the ZiG, the shortage of small denominations remains a significant challenge.

Retailers and consumers are frequently forced to resort to barter systems or the use of vouchers  in place of actual currency.

This situation undermines confidence in the new currency and perpetuates economic inefficiencies.

Businesses, particularly small enterprises, are hit hardest by this shortage. Many have reported declining sales as customers are unable to make exact payments.

This, in turn, affects overall economic activity, exacerbating the country's economic stagnation. The informal sector, where many transactions are conducted in cash, is especially vulnerable.

Underlying issues

Several factors contribute to the ongoing change crisis. Firstly, the RBZ’s distribution of the ZiG has been uneven, with a greater emphasis on higher denominations.

This focus overlooks the daily transactional needs of the average Zimbabwean who requires smaller denominations for routine purchases.

Secondly, there is a lack of confidence in the new currency. Many Zimbabweans, scarred by past experiences with hyperinflation and currency devaluation, remain skeptical about the ZiG’s long-term stability. This skepticism leads to a reluctance to fully adopt the ZiG, further entrenching the change problem.

Gendered impacts

The change fiasco also has significant gendered impacts. Women, who dominate the informal sector and small-scale retail operations, are disproportionately affected. Their businesses often rely on small transactions, and the inability to provide or receive exact change hampers their operations. This issue underscores the broader gendered implications of macroeconomic policies that fail to consider the unique challenges faced by women.

The way forward

Addressing the change fiasco requires a multifaceted approach. Firstly, the RBZ must ensure a more balanced distribution of the ZiG, prioritising smaller denominations to meet everyday transactional needs. This can be achieved by increasing the minting and circulation of coins and lower-value notes.

Secondly, public confidence in the ZiG needs to be bolstered through transparent and consistent economic policies. Ensuring that the currency retains its value and purchasing power is crucial. The RBZ should also engage in public awareness campaigns to educate citizens on the benefits and stability of the ZiG.

Thirdly, inclusive economic policies that consider the unique needs of women and the informal sector are essential. This includes facilitating access to financial services and providing support mechanisms for small businesses.


The introduction of the ZiG was a bold move aimed at stabilising Zimbabwe’s economy. However, its failure to solve the change fiasco highlights deeper systemic issues that need to be addressed. The path to economic stability requires not just bold initiatives, but also attention to the everyday realities faced by all Zimbabweans.

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