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Zimbabwe police fire tear gas at protest against bank notes

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Protesters hold signs during a demonstration by opposition parties against the introduction of bond notes as a currency in Harare, on November 30, 2016. A token currency issued in Zimbabwe this week to ease critical cash shortages has brought little relief as desperate customers queue for hours to withdraw money while some traders reject the new notes. The central bank on November 28, 2016 issued $10 million in US dollar-equivalent "bond notes", ignoring resistance from citizens and companies who feared a return to the days of hyperinflation. / AFP PHOTO / Jekesai Njikizana

Protesters hold signs during a demonstration by opposition parties against the introduction of bond notes as a currency in Harare, on November 30, 2016. A token currency issued in Zimbabwe this week to ease critical cash shortages has brought little relief as desperate customers queue for hours to withdraw money while some traders reject the new notes. The central bank on November 28, 2016 issued $10 million in US dollar-equivalent “bond notes”, ignoring resistance from citizens and companies who feared a return to the days of hyperinflation. / AFP PHOTO / Jekesai Njikizana

Riot police in Zimbabwe fired tear gas and beat up opposition protesters marching through the capital Harare on Wednesday against the new “bond note” currency, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Zimbabwe’s central bank on Monday rolled out the “bond notes” — equivalent to the US dollar — to ease critical cash shortages, despite fears of a return to the hyperinflation that wiped out many people’s savings in 2009.

About 100 activists from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the pressure group Tajamuka were chanting anti-government songs when police moved in to disperse them.

The protesters also carried placards denouncing President Robert Mugabe’s economic policies.

“Bond notes = Toilet tissue” read one placard, as others declared “No To Bond Notes” and called Mugabe, 92, “a limping donkey”.

Police confronted the marchers with water cannons and beat up several of them with rubber truncheons.

Some shops in the central business district pulled down their shutters as police chased after the protesters.

“We are not going to embrace bond notes,” Hardlife Mudzingwa, a spokesman for Tajamuka, told AFP.

“They are being used to mop up the US dollars that people have in their accounts so that top government officials can import their personal goods.”

Many cash machines now disperse half US dollars and half bond notes.

Zimbabwe abandoned its own dollar currency in 2009 after hyperinflation hit 500 billion percent rendering it unusable.


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