HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa has ordered an investigation after a large amount of the new $2 and $5 notes apparently turned up on the parallel market.
The new bank notes entered circulation on Tuesday, but parallel market currency dealers already appeared to have received large amounts of the initial $300 million worth of new bank notes.
Presidential spokesman George Charamba said on Twitter: “Following images of crispy notes on Twitter, allegedly offloaded onto the black market, investigations are in full swing, with facts on the veracity of this development set to be known and shared. Concern about this development has been raised at the highest level.”
In a later update, he said: “I have just spoken to the RBZ governor who has indicated that the central bank investigations are now complete. The central bank will issue a statement before long, certainly before close of day. I thank alert Zimbabweans who exposed this racket.”
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is targeting to release up to $1 billion cash into the banking system over the next six months to ease cash shortages that have seen parallel market currency traders taking control of huge amounts of cash, which are now being traded at a premium.
Banks have only been issuing an average $150 of the new notes to customers since Tuesday, with the weekly withdrawal limit still fixed at $300.
There was widespread shock on Wednesday when a picture circulated on the internet showing a vehicle passenger with blocks of bank notes rapped in plastic on his lap. One of the notes had a visible serial number, which would have helped investigators narrow down the suspect list of banks or individuals responsible for taking the money out of the banking system.