Public warming up to bond coins

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SMALL business outlets, vendors and Commuter Omnibus Operators are finally warming up to bond coins, a month after their introduction.
This development comes in the wake of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) series of stakeholders’ awareness meetings.
The special coins in denominations of 1c, 5c, 10c and 25c are part of a five-year US$50 million bond that Government has secured to give them value.
The introduction of the bond coins on the local market is part of efforts to ease the shortage of change especially in retail outlets where customers were forced to buy small items like sweets or pens, or get credit notes instead of change.
Yet the imported coins were met with resistance as commuter omnibus operators, vendors and small business outlets refused to accept them.
Major retail outlets such as OK Zimbabwe, Bon Marche and TM Supermarkets were the only ones accepting the coins as payment.
However, economic analysts blamed it all on the RBZ claiming the central bank did not embark on sufficient awareness campaigns to warrant a smooth absorption of the coins.
“People are sceptical and have not embraced the bond coins owing to reports circulating that the introduction of the bond coins is a precursor to the re-introduction of the Zimbabwean dollar,” said economic analyst Tilda Sibanda.
“RBZ should have done more awareness campaigns to educate the public before their circulation.”
Another economic analyst, Hubert Muzikani concurred with Sibanda saying there was need to build confidence in the bond coins as people were still sceptical from the losses rendered during the dollarisation transition in 2009.
“A lot of people lost out during the dollarisation transition in 2009 and people fear that the coins are valueless, but all this is all misinformation which RBZ has to clear,” he said.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Patrick Chinamasa and the RBZ Governor, Dr John Mangudya dispelled the re-introduction of the Zim-dollar fears, insisting there were no plans to bring back the local currency anytime soon.
In response to the low uptake of the coins, the central bank last week engaged retailers and urban commuter omnibus operators.
A snap survey by The Patriot revealed that the RBZ engagements were now paying dividends as most small business outlets, vendors and some commuter omnibus operators who had adopted a wait- and- see approach are now accepting payment in bond coins.
The Commuter Omnibus Operators Association said most of its members were now accepting the new coins.
Chairman of Greater Harare Association of Commuter Operators (GHACO) Cosmas Mbonjani said his organisation supported the use of the special coins.
“There is no reason why our members should not accept the coins because we had a meeting with the RBZ boss who assured us that it was genuine money and that we should accept them,” said Mbonjani.
He, however, said the challenge was that some of the service providers like service stations were not accepting the coins.
Some vendors also attributed their refusal to lack of knowledge.
“We did not know much about these James Bond (bond coins), but after some fruitful engagements with the RBZ we now understand they are real money just like the Rands and the US Dollar,” said one vendor Madzibaba Francis.
Zimbabwe is not the only country using bond coins.
Ecuador that also uses the US dollar has special coins, ‘centavos’, which have the same denomination and value as US coins.

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