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Zimbabweans Dissatisfied With Ailing Economy Doubt Usefulness of Bond Notes

  • Gibbs Dube

Zimbabwean Bond Notes

Afrobarometer says Zimbabweans are skeptical about the effectiveness of the country’s bond notes in reviving the declining economy.

In its latest survey, Afrobarometer says four in 10 Zimbabweans (39%) think that the new medium of exchange will help ease the country’s economic problems. “A plurality (49%), however, do not see them as helpful.”

Pessimism regarding the bond notes is far more common among urban (60%) than among rural residents (42%) and increases dramatically with education level, from 23% among those with no formal schooling to 63% among those with post-secondary qualifications.

“Residents in Harare (59%), Bulawayo (57%), and Manicaland (56%) are most skeptical about a boost from bond notes.

“Despite the government’s efforts to address the country’s economic crisis, a majority of Zimbabweans see the country’s and their personal economic conditions as bad. Only a minority of citizens expect much relief from the government’s latest attempt to stimulate the economy and incentivize exports through the use of bond notes.”

The country’s central bank indicated before the introduction of the bond notes that they were an export incentive though the notes are now being used as some form of legal tender in Zimbabwe by ordinary citizens.

In November 2016, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, seeking to stimulate the economy and incentivize exports, introduced a new medium of exchange – bond notes pegged at par value with the U.S. dollar - in a move seen by many observers as intended to ease crippling cash shortages but ultimately unsustainable.

According to the African Development Bank, Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown remains an enormous challenge affecting citizens from all walks of life. The government’s 2009 introduction of various foreign currencies was welcomed by many Zimbabweans who, after years of hyperinflation, witnessed a stabilization in general consumer prices. But with lagging economic growth and a continuing drought, the country now faces deflation and has even experienced reverse urbanization due to a lack of opportunities in the cities.

The latest Afrobarometer findings show that Zimbabweans are still largely negative in their assessments of economic conditions in their country and their own households. Only a minority expect bond notes to provide much relief.

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues in African countries. Six rounds of surveys were conducted in up to 37 countries between 1999 and 2016, and Round 7 surveys are being conducted in 2016/2017.

Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples. The Afrobarometer team in Zimbabwe, led by Mass Public Opinion Institute, interviewed 1,200 adult Zimbabweans in January and February 2017. A sample of this size yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-3% at a 95% confidence level.

Previous surveys have been conducted in Zimbabwe in 1999, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2014.

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