Harare – It was bound to happen but it’s still a bad omen.
Some shops in Zimbabwe are already refusing to accept plastic money ahead of the introduction of bond notes, according to state media on Wednesday.
Plastic money use was reported to have surged by more than 150% between the end of April and August as a cash shortage bit hard.
Locals with bank accounts and bank cards turned to them to settle bills in supermarkets and with some government institutions.
But as bond notes – a new currency that the authorities say will be equivalent to US dollars – loom, some shops have stopped accepting this convenient form of payment, said the Herald newspaper.
The paper, which is aligned to the ruling Zanu-PF party, quoted reports of shops that “were no longer accepting plastic money for fear that their money would be converted to bond notes when they are introduced in due course.”
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Busisa Moyo told the paper: “We have not really heard confirmed reports on that but what I can say is that there should be no restrictions.
“If there are such restrictions, they will have a back stream impact on us,” Moyo said.
With much of Zimbabwe’s economy informal, card payments have not been an option for a number of purchases.
But cash is getting harder and harder to obtain. Bank withdrawal limits have been dropping steadily for weeks. This week some banks were not dispensing money at all from their ATMs.
Locals report getting paid out in small coins – even for sums as large as $100.
If Zimbabweans can’t get their cash from the bank and can’t use their bank cards, how will they pay for anything?
As one reader of the Herald’s page wrote under this story: “Let’s brace ourselves for the worst.”