Have you ever experienced déjà vu? That uncanny feeling of having been somewhere or done something before while experiencing a moment?
Zimbabweans are experiencing something even more disorienting than that feeling; a repeat of a sad part of their past, a looming currency change.
Another currency change looms before Zimbabweans and in the wake of that currency change, Zimbabweans in the capital Harare have been lining up outside banks to withdraw whatever little cash they can get their hands on before the currency is flipped and bond notes replace it in circulation.
The move to replace the currency in circulation in Zimbabwe with bond notes is the latest desperate move by the government to save a cash-strapped and struggling economy. The move is one, however, that the general populace has buckled against since its announcement.
In a now desperate stance that is perhaps a perfect show of just how distasteful Zimbabweans find the idea of bond notes, they are camping overnight in front of banks in queues to get what little of the old money that they can.
It is a throwback to a later time in 2009 when Zimbabweans experienced the first currency change. The Zimbabwean dollar had been hit with a spiraling hyperinflation which made everybody a billionaire, just with really worthless money. Zim’s government had therefore introduced a multi-currency system using the U.S. dollar, South African rand and most recently Chinese Yuan.
The U.S. dollar has, however, been the preferred currency as Zimbabweans prefer the dollar’s strength, but spending the dollars brought on a rather high cost of living for Zimbabweans.
The bond notes were touted by Zim’s Central Bank governor, John Mangudya, to be a currency that is meant to hold the same value as the U.S. dollar and ease liquidity shortages.
A reserve bank public education drive which started in May to allay fears about the bond notes has done nothing to convince the citizenry.