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Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s central bank has reassured gold companies and people receiving money transfers that they will still be able to receive foreign currency in their bank accounts after a ban takes effect in shops.

On Monday, Zimbabwe declared its interim RTGS dollar the only legal tender, ending the decade-long use of multiple currencies including the U.S. dollar.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the move was an important step to repair the economy, but it caused uncertainty among businesses and people who rely on remittances from the large Zimbabwean diaspora.

“Authorised dealers are advised the current payment arrangements for large-scale gold producers shall continue to apply and the current retention thresholds have remained the same,” a central bank notice sent late on Tuesday said.

Gold producers operating in Zimbabwe keep 55% of their sales proceeds in foreign currency, with the remainder being surrendered to the central bank. After Monday’s currency reform, half of the balance kept by the central bank will now be sold on the interbank forex market.

Gold miners and other exporters will keep their foreign currency accounts, from which they can make international payments. For local payments, they have to liquidate their forex at the interbank market rate.

Individuals can still receive remittances in their foreign currency accounts, the central bank said.

Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

Zimbabwe Pushing To Sell Its $600 Million Ivory Stock
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Zimbabwe hosted the first United Nations and Africa Union summit on wildlife. The country is seeking permission to sell its $600 million stock of elephant ivory and rhino horns to fund conservation programs. Those living near game parks have other issues they want addressed.

In some parts of Africa, elephant populations are in decline, mainly because poachers shoot the animals for their valuable ivory tusks.

Zimbabwe has no such problem. In fact, the country's parks authority says the elephant population is up to 84,000.

That may warm the hearts of wildlife conservationists, but people who live near Zimbabwe's game parks have a different perspective.

Gertrude Dube lives in Mansuma village, on the edge of Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s biggest wildlife reserve.

Her main problem is with hyenas, who have eaten all seven of the goats she used to own.

But elephants make life difficult too, she says.

“We love and appreciate wild animals. But some like lions and elephants are dangerous. When people hear of elephants in the area, even school children fear going to school, as they kill,” Dube said.

Stocks of ivory and rhino horns at Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority in Harare, June 19, 2019.
Stocks of ivory and rhino horns at Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority in Harare, June 19, 2019.

​This week, Zimbabwe is hosting delegates to the UN/AU Wildlife Summit in Victoria Falls, about two hours drive from Hwange National Park. Conflict between humans and wildlife is one of the subjects on the agenda.

But Zimbabwean officials have a different focus than Dube. Zimbabwe and its neighbors Botswana and Namibia are home to over 60 percent of the world's elephants. The countries want to end the international ban on trading in raw ivory, imposed 30 years ago in hopes of protecting elephant populations.

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa says the country has about $600 million worth of elephant ivory and rhino horns in stock, mostly taken from animals that died of natural causes.

“If we are allowed to dispose the same under agreed parameters, the revenue derived there from will suffice to finance our operational conservation efforts for the next two decades. We encourage a process where accruing benefits from natural resources are fairly and equitably shared among communities living within wildlife areas,” Mnangagwa said.

That would certainly be good news for Dube and others who frequently lose their crops and cattle to marauding elephants and other forms of wildlife.

The two-day conference ends Tuesday.

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