Vendors and some retailers in Harare are now refusing to accept the ZW$50 banknote introduced in 2021 by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor John Mangudya. This refusal is unsurprising as the note’s value has plummeted to less than US$0.10 on both official and black market exchange platforms, with 80 ZW$50 notes needed to equal one US dollar.
Vendors in high-density suburbs of Harare and tuckshop operators in the vicinity are citing practical reasons for rejecting the note. They find it impractical to store large quantities of ZW$50 notes, which occupy space while having little value. Some have expressed frustration at the note’s worthlessness, stating that it is no longer feasible for transactions.
The ZW$50 note is colloquially known as the “Mbuya Nehanda note” due to its motif featuring the legendary Spirit Medium of Zimbabwe’s First Chimurenga in the 1890s. However, even the next highest denomination, the ZW$100 note, holds little value and is insufficient to purchase even minor items.
Zimbabwe’s current inflation rate stands at a staggering 284.94%, making it the highest in the world, surpassing even Venezuela’s rate of 210%. Prices of essential goods and services have more than tripled over the past two years, exacerbating the economic hardship, particularly for government employees with stagnant wages.
The RBZ and the government have attributed these economic challenges to “economic sanctions” and various “third force” elements targeting Zimbabwe’s economy. Despite official claims, many Zimbabweans continue to prefer the US dollar for its stability and recognized value.
When introduced, the RBZ pumped $360 million worth of ZW$50 notes into the economy, promising gradual increases. However, public confidence in the local currency remains low, with Zimbabweans recalling the devaluation and rejection of previous denominations, including ZW$1, ZW$2, ZW$5, ZW$10, and ZW$20 notes. The country has a history of hyperinflation, leading to the use of trillion-dollar notes during the peak of its economic crisis. NewZimbabwe