Banks Limit Withdrawals to US$200 Daily

“You can only withdraw US$200 today,” a bank teller at Interfin Bank Limited’s Towers Branch along Samora Machel Avenue, said in an interview.

“You are actually lucky because there is no cash in other banks in Harare today and those who come early will be the lucky ones. As I said you can only take US$200 maximum today. This could change tomorrow if the situation does not get any better.”

The move comes amid reports that foreign-owned commercial banks are alleged to be sitting on more than US$540 million in their accounts abroad, frustrating and worsening the country’s cash crisis, according to the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ).

A BAZ official told Radio VOP on Monday that a meeting had been held between BAZ and the foreign owned banks to ask them to remit some of their cash.

“They need to just send us about US$200 million and our cash crisis could come to an end right now,” the official said.

Over the weekend, the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, admitted that the country’s cash crisis had to be dealt with urgently but bankers say his hands are tied and he cannot do anything.

“They want Zanu (PF) and President Mugabe to go, full stop,” the banker said.

“Cash is coming in through donors who are not giving the government any cent but are sending it out through the United Nations donor organisations such as UNICEF. The government is in a fix right now and the situation could get worse before it can get better.”

Last week many commercial banks operating in Harare, the capital city, ran out of United States dollars causing panic in the capital city.

A survey done in Harare showed that mainly indigenous owned and controlled commercial banks had no cash. Interfin, a subsidiary of Interfin Financial Holdings Limited had no cash at its Towers Branch along Samora Machel Avenue. Cash only arrived in after lunch. Interfin is listed on the ZSE having rebranded from CFX Financial Holdings Limited (CFX).

CBZ Bank Limited, a subsidiary of the ZSE-listed CBZ Financial Holdings Limited (CBZ) did not have any cash in the morning but had it later during the day. CABS, Zimbabwe’s largest building society, also did not have cash and there were long queues outside most of its branches.

However, Barclays and Stanchart, ironically, were awash with cash and customers could withdraw any amount even from their ATMs during the cash crisis.

Other commercial banks, on the other hand, were limiting customers especially from ATM machines on Tuesday morning.

Zimbabwe is facing a serious cash crisis ever since sanctions were introduced on its economy by the US and the European Commission as well as Australia and New Zealand. Minister Biti has regularly come out clearly admitting that the country has run out of cash and, therefore, he could not allow the civil service to get their annual salary increase resulting in a nationwide strike. The RBZ has still remained tight-lipped on the sensitive issue.