Shamiso Dzingire, Business Reporter
DEPOSITORS smiled all the way to banks on Monday and yesterday as banks in Bulawayo offered more cash withdrawals of up to $100, both bond notes and United States dollars.
Yesterday, scores of depositors thronged banking halls with long winding queues being seen across major streets.
Coming at month-end when most workers are being paid, depositors could not hide their joy as they walked away with cash, now a rare experience on the back of biting cash shortages that have gripped the country since 2016.
A survey conducted by Business Chronicle in Bulawayo revealed that most banks were disbursing brand new $2 bond notes, while some continued to disburse coins and old notes. The maximum withdrawal limit ranged between $30- $100.
An official from FBC Bank who could not be named for ethical reasons told this publication that they have been issuing brand new notes in the past weeks.
“We have been disbursing brand new notes for more than a month now. Last week, we were disbursing both the bond note and the green back (US$) on pay days. I cannot confirm that will be the case this week as civil servants continue to receive their salaries,” said the official.
An official from POSB also said they were giving out cash of up to $80 to their depositors. The same was happening at the National Building Society (NBS) along Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street.
Depositors who spoke to Business Chronicle expressed excitement at the development.
“I am excited to receive such brand new notes. All this time we have been getting old notes and suddenly, we receive these brand new bond notes,” said one depositor who identified herself as Miss Sibongile Moyo.
Another depositor from Steward Bank said his bank was issuing both the greenback and the bond note.
“Today, I withdrew U$20 and $50 bond notes from my bank. I am really excited about this development,” said the woman who refused to be named.
The issuing of more cash from banks including the US$ is likely to frustrate parallel market cash dealers popularly known as Osiphatheleni who were cashing in on the cash crisis.
Early this month, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which has been importing cash to ease cash shortages, temporarily froze disbursing US dollars to the banks for onward withdrawal by individual customers.
RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya (pictured) said some unscrupulous people were siphoning the greenback and reselling it on the black market. He also said the US dollar was being looked at as an investment and not as a medium of exchange. Yesterday, social media was also awash with messages that banks are disbursing US dollars. This prompted some to rush to the banks, and long winding queues could be witnessed at various banks in and around the city. Some depositors could be seen filling withdrawal slips as they prepared to withdraw their money.
The country has been facing cash shortages since 2016. To address the cash crisis, the Central Bank introduced bond notes in November 2016, a surrogate currency pegged at par with the US dollar under a $200 million Afreximbank loan facility.