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US Dollars, S. African Rand In Short Supply In Zimbabwe in Festive Season

Many Zimbabweans are camping outside banks in hopes of getting their hands on banknotes while travelers find themselves unable to follow through on holiday plans for lack of banknotes to pay for transport

US dollars and South African rand are in particularly short supply this holiday season in Zimbabwe with many households and businesses unable to obtain an adequate supply from banks for their transactions - including funding their holiday travel.

Many people are camping outside banks hoping to get their hands on banknotes.

Consumer and financial sources said the situation is worst in so-called growth points -n clusters of residential and business development in rural areas - and small towns with a limited number of savings and loan institutions such as the Central African Building Society and the national Post Office Savings Bank to choose from.

Resident Nelly Ruwocha of Gutu, Masvingo province, told VOA most people there and in surrounding villages have not been able to get cash for two days.

Tonderai Kuvheya of Masvingo said he has been unable to travel to Harare to visit his family as planned because he cannot get enough cash out of his bank.

Bulawayo bank manager Samson Nhliziyo said building societies and banks have too many clients which has resulted in demand for cash outstripping supply.

“These institutions never expected this to happen especially during the festive season and there is little they can do to tackle the situation,” he said.

Economist Prosper Chitambara said cash shortages reflect general liquidity issues as there are simply not enough notes in circulation in the country which abandoned its own dollar in 2009 to adopt a monetary regime of mixed hard currencies.