In her poignant memorandum, Daphne Jena has a message for President Robert Mugabe on the country’s cash crisis
Attention: President Mugabe
CC: Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and RBZ Governor John Panonetsa Mangudya
Today I decided to pass by the bank, to see firsthand what the cash withdrawal situation is like. Since I had not been there in a while, I was shocked to see a meandering queue, considering that my bank has been one of the best performing institutions since the cash crisis began.
I went and stood behind a man whom I assumed was the last in the queue; he confirmed that he was indeed the last. I just wanted to find out what was going on, so standing in the queue was to avoid offending people who were visibly tired and frustrated from standing in a line that was hardly moving.
Cash crisis – a conversation starter
Soon after, an elderly woman came and stood behind me, after her a young man also joined the queue. Below is my exchange with the man who was in front of me.
Me: How much are we getting from the ATM?
Me: What about Bond Notes?
Man: Earlier this week they were giving up to $200 in bond notes from the banking hall but today we have been told to withdraw from the ATM.
Me: What if I want more than $50 in bond notes?
Man: Well, today it seems there are no bond notes. You can ask the security guard when he gets here, he is giving out numbers that are equivalent to the cash available for withdrawal.
The old woman standing behind me was eavesdropping and was complaining with every response I was getting from the man.
When the security officer got to me, he gave me ticket number 165 and it was the last one. The woman behind me pleaded with the officer for another ticket or at least permission to go inside the bank.
His response was that there was nothing he could do as he was under instruction to allow only corporate account holders into the banking hall. He also told her he had a limit on the numbers he could give.
Would you endure a bank queue Mr President?
Remember I told you earlier that the woman behind me was an old woman. Probably the same age as you Mr President. I am sure you can relate to how it would feel to stand in a long queue at that age. It is even worse if you do not get what you are waiting for.
I just gave her my ticket since my reason for standing in the queue in the first place was not to withdraw but to make an enquiry. Even if she might have made it to the queue that was guaranteed of getting US$50, she was going to wait until 164 people got their money and that could mean an hour or two of standing under the scorching sun or the pouring rain. (I will not go into the weather report here).
This is probably what is happening at every bank queue in the country and there is not much any of us can do.
A plea to the President
All I ask of you Mr president, is for you to do something for people like the elderly woman I met today. Because of her age and maybe ill-health, she could not stand upright. She was literally teetering over as stood in the queue. I can only pray that she’d had something to eat before leaving her home this morning, because no one who is both hungry and old can endure those conditions. I also hope that when she finally gets her money, none of the unemployed and hungry youths lurking in the vicinity will see her as an easy target for pick pocketing.
Do something Mr President
I have no experience in running a country so I do not have any suggestions to offer. But please do something.
Copied here are Minister Chinamasa and Reserve Bank Governor Dr Mangudya, the two men who have the responsibility to run the country’s economy. I do hope that the three of you, and the rest of those who are on the payroll for handling such matters, can come up with a speedy and lasting solution to this disturbing situation.