- Zimbabwe is facing the very real threat of another financial crisis like the one experienced in 2008
- Bread is being rationed, empty shelves are forcing shops to close and motorists are queuing for kilometres to buy fuel
- The latest crisis has been brought on by a controversial new 2% tax on all electronic transactions announced by finance minister Mthuli Ncube last week
Zimbabwe is facing the very real threat of another financial crisis on the level as the one which crippled the country in 2008. Bread is being rationed in shops across the country while empty shelves are forcing some shops to close altogether and motorists are queuing for kilometres to buy fuel.
The latest crisis started last week when the country’s finance minister Mthuli Ncube announced a controversial new 2% tax on all electronic transactions. The measure was meant to stabilise the economy and provide some much-needed additional revenue for the government but now looks like it might be backfiring with devastating consequences.
Most ordinary Zimbabweans rely on electronic transfers to go about their daily lives and make most of their day-to-day purchases using electronic channels. This is caused by the country still relying on the US dollar as its main currency.
Briefly.co.za gathered that while there have always been shortages of hard currency in the country the cash shortage has escalated in recent months which has caused actual cash-flow in the country to grind to a virtual halt and made Zimbabweans almost entirely reliant on electronic cash.
Thesouthafrican.com reported that Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has appealed for calm and reassured Zimbabweans that his government remained in control of the situation.
Mnangagwa said the government would guarantee the continued availability of critical commodities such as fuel and basic food items. The president warned Zimbabweans that there was no quick fix or easy solutions.
Predictably the shortages have spawned a thriving black market filled with cowboy traders eager to take advantage of desperate people by heavily inflating the price of essential food items. In one case a street vendor was doing a brisk business selling cooking oil for $12 instead of the usual $3.70 per litre.
Meanwhile, IOL.co.za reported that international chain and franchise stores such as Edgars, KFC, Truworths and St Elmos have temporarily shut various stores in the capital Harare and other locations in the country.
KFC said it was unable to purchase chickens and other stock due to the critical cash shortage.
Worryingly many pharmacies in the country are running out of essential and chronic medication which has the potential to threaten the lives of countless people.
The latest crisis will come as a blow to Mnangagwa who won a dispute election barely three months ago largely on the promise of reviving the ailing Zimbabwean economy. The unemployment rate is generally believed to be well above 90%.
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