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There is now a 5th Zimbabwean dollar! The RTGS dollar!



Looks like, while I've been distracted by the birth of my 2nd son, the government of Zimbabwe and the RBZ have been busy. The announcement came on 2/19/2019, one week after my son was born.


On 2/20/2019 the “Zollar” “quasi-currency,” pegged to the US dollar at a 1:1 ratio, represented by the bond coins released in 2014 and bond notes released from 2016-2018, became the official currency of Zimbabwe – called the RTGS dollar. It consisted of the bond notes and electronic money. The Bond Notes and electronic money would be converted or merged into the new currency with a 1:1 parity and then they would float against the dollar. The name of the currency would come from the country’s interbank online payment platform – "Real Time Gross Settlement," RTGS. 


In the days leading up to the announcement the government and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) were actively denying claims that they were looking to introduce a new currency. Some local economists called the move a “bold and progressive” step. Others saw the move as a sophisticated plan to take control of the US dollar savings held by the population. Shakespear Hamauswa, a businessman and lecturer, sued the government and called the RTGS a “ponzi currency,” used to “monetize the theft” of the US$ balances of the people accumulated in the last 10 years. Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the major opposition group, said, “The monetary policy statement is a disaster that will erode livelihoods, plunge the nation into darkness and uncertainty.” 


It’s worth noting that, while the bond notes and RTGS were officially pegged to the US dollar, in the parallel / black market the “real” exchange rate was more like 4 or 5 to one. Almost immediately after the RTGS was introduced the official exchange rate fell to 2.5RTGS:US$1. The “real” exchange rate at that time was closer to 5.75RTGS:US$1.





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