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Zimbabwe Central Bank Issues New Notes - But Public Prefers Dollars

Zimbabwean banking sources said new notes issued by the country's central bank were widely available on Wednesday in Harare financial institutions, but that there was little interest from the public as many consumers had withdrawn all their savings or hit withdrawal limits.

The denominations in which the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe issued the new dollars was also a problem as account holders were limited to Z$5 billion a week in the old currency, but in the new currency that amount translated into just 50 Zimbabwean cents.

Sources said the new notes were not readily available in Bulawayo, the capital of western Matabeleland, and other provincial cities.

Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono announced on Monday that his institution was lopping 12 zeroes from the currency and issuing bills in denominations of one, five, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 dollars. It is Zimbabwe's third currency redenomination in less than 18 months.

Hyperinflation in recent years continually accelerated and the currency has depreciated such that the number of zeroes involved in transactions has constantly increased. Before the latest redenomination the U.S. dollar was fetching several trillion Zimbabwe dollars.

The central bank recently issued a bank note for Z$50 trillion, and had promised to issue one for Z$100 trillion, but the mega-note never materialized.

A Harare bank employee speaking on condition of anonymity told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that with foreign currencies in such wide use in Zimbabwe as a better hedge against hyperinflation, demand for the new notes is weak.

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