Zimbabwe Cash Crisis 'Will Likely Fuel More Demos', Says Rights Group

Harare – A worsening cash crisis in restive Zimbabwe could trigger fresh anti-government protests, a leading rights group warned Tuesday.

The Heal Zimbabwe Trust quoted Zimbabweans who were in bank queues waiting for cash as saying they would “join in the next wave of demonstrations” and blasting government ministers for being able to “withdraw more than us”.

“The continuing worsening economic crisis compounded by the on-going cash crisis is likely to fuel more demonstrations against the government” of President Robert Mugabe said the group in a statement.

Protests flared up in July, August and early September but have become slightly less frequent after police banned demonstrations in central Harare. 

An attempt by Mugabe opponents to challenge the ban failed on Tuesday with High Court Judge George Chiweshe dismissing their application with costs, former finance minister Tendai Biti, who led the court challenge, said in a tweet.

Cash shortages across Zimbabwe have been exacerbated by a widespread fear of new local banknotes due to be introduced later this month.

Worried that the ‘bond notes’ will become worthless just like their predecessors did in the 2006-8 hyper-inflationary crisis, many businesses and individuals are refusing to bank their money – and that’s fuelling shortages of money in the formal sector.

Despite Zimbabwe’s high prices (basics cost much more than in neighbouring South Africa) some banks are limiting cash withdrawals to just $50.

Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya warned in a tweet on Tuesday that a “monumental banking crisis is looming”.