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Zimbabwe Finance Minister Joins The Blame Game as Cash Crisis Persists

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi has joined Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono in blaming the country's commercial banks for the persistence of cash shortages despite large injections of bank notes by the central bank.

The minister ordered senior bank officials to eliminate the lines of customers seeking cash which have become a fixture at institutions or face unspecified action.

Bank executives were summoned to the central bank where Mumbengegwi told them queues must disappear within one week. Gono told them that if the queues for cash did not vanish he would find some “little excuse to reduce the number” of banks.

Bankers Association of Zimbabwe Chairman John Mangudya was unavailable for comment on the threats from Mumbengegwi and Gono.

Since mid-December the central bank has issued close to Z$100 trillion in new notes in denominations ranging from Z$250,000 to Z$10 million in an effort to end the cash shortage which Gono blames on parallel market dealers in goods and currency but which economists say results from hyperinflation which has driven prices sky-high.

Economist Godfrey Kanyenze, director of the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that banks can do little because the problem lies with the central bank.

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