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Facing FX Deadline, Zimbabwe Banks Open Seven Days a Week

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono has ordered banks to stay open on weekends and holidays through an August 21 deadline for the exchange of old money for new notes with three fewer zeros to adapt to 1,200% inflation.

Banks across the country opened their doors on Monday, Heroes Day, and were to open again on Tuesday, Defense Forces Day, another national holiday.

Parallel market currency dealers in South Africa and other neighboring countries were said to be scrambling to get trillions of Zimbabwe dollars back into the country and into bank accounts or the revamped currency before the deadline next Monday.

Reports said couriers were wading the crocodile-infested Limpopo River which forms Zimbabwe's southern border with South Africa. Within the country, those transporting currency avoided internal roadblocks by boarding overnight cross-country trains.

For insight on the troubled currency conversion program, reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with economist Godfrey Kanyenze, director of the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute in Harare.

Elsewhere, civil and human rights groups were moving to lodge a legal challenge to the basis on which police and central bank officials have confiscated large amounts of cash from those holding more currency than permitted under new regulations.

A presidential decree lets officials seize funds in from individuals holding more than Z$100 million, or companies in possession of more than Z$5 billion.

The Law Society of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum say that the measures violate the Zimbabwean constitution.

University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Greg Linington told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele that the civil society groups are on solid ground.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...