-Zimbabwe to introduce gold coins as local currency tumbles
Soaring inflation piling pressure on country already struggling with shortages and stirring memories of Mugabe chao
Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in Kenya in March. Annual inflation, which hit almost 192% in June, has cast a shadow over his attempts to revitalise the economy.
Zimbabwe will start issuing gold coins as legal tender in late July, its central bank has said, as the country battles to control runaway inflation that has considerably weakened the local currency.
The inflation rate more than doubled last month to 191%, stoking memories of the hyperinflation of the 2000s that saw the Zimbabwean dollar redenominated three times before being effectively abandoned in 2009.
The governor of the Central bank, John Mangudya, said the gold coins would act as a store of value and were expected to reduce the demand for US dollars – a phenomenon largely blamed for the tumbling value of the local currency.
“The gold coins will be available for sale to the public in both local currency and US dollars and other foreign currencies at a price based on the prevailing international price of gold and the cost production,” Mangudya said in a statement.
The gold coins, named Mosi-oa-Tunya, after Victoria Falls, can be converted into cash and be traded locally and internationally.
According to Reuters, the coins will each contain one troy ounce of gold and will be sold by Fidelity Gold Refinery, Aurex and local banks.
Zimbabweans expressed mixed feelings over the news.
“I cannot trust the central bank to give me a coin while they hold my cash,” said Evans Mupachikwa, a foreign currency trader. “Zimbabwe is known for policy inconsistencies. What if they wake up and say the coins are no longer tradable?.”
Another foreign currency trader, Munesu Mandiopera,said: “Gold is expensive. I do not think many of us will afford to buy the coins. Many will continue to keep their money at home. This is another failed move by the government.”
Zimbabweans have an uneasy relationship with the central bank and its policies, as monetary authorities continue to fail the credibility test.
In 2008 – the year a $100bn note went into circulation – Zimbabweans lost their savings including pensions when the Zimbabwean dollar crashed. Many Zimbabweans choose to keep money in their houses or under their beds instead of going to the bank.
Zimbabwe abandoned its inflation-ravaged dollar in 2009, opting instead to use foreign currencies, mostly the US dollar. The government reintroduced the local currency in 2019 but it has rapidly lost value again.
Last week, the finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, said the gold coins “will give you more value”.
Gold coins are used by investors internationally to hedge against inflation, according to economist Prosper Chitambara.
“Their major role is to act as a store of value but also to work as a viable investment asset. The value of gold has always been increasing at times the global economy has been on recession,” Chitambara said, adding that the high demand for the US dollar in Zimbabwe, which is fuelling exchange rate volatility, would weaken as the public accepts the gold coins.
However, he said the new monetary policy intervention by the central bank would not address inflation, which is expected to continue soaring.
“It could influence inflation, but it is not the panacea to the inflation problem because inflation is triggered largely by money supply growth. When there is an alternative store of value, the depreciation of the local currency will be contained,” Chitambara said.
The central bank last week raised interest rates to 200% from 80% and outlined plans to make the US dollar legal tender for the next five years to boost confidence.
Under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from Robert Mugabe in a military putsch in 2017, Zimbabwe has witnessed an economic tailspin, compounding a hunger crisis that has followed poor rains.
Reuters contributed to this report
as you’re joining us today from Indonesia, we have a small favour to ask. Tens of millions have placed their trust in the Guardian’s fearless journalism since we started publishing 200 years ago, turning to us in moments of crisis, uncertainty, solidarity and hope. More than 1.5 million supporters, from 180 countries, now power us financially – keeping us open to all, and fiercely independent.
Unlike many others, the Guardian has no shareholders and no billionaire owner. Just the determination and passion to deliver high-impact global reporting, always free from commercial or political influence. Reporting like this is vital for democracy, for fairness and to demand better from the powerful.
And we provide all this for free, for everyone to read. We do this because we believe in information equality. Greater numbers of people can keep track of the events shaping our world, understand their impact on people and communities, and become inspired to take meaningful action. Millions can benefit from open access to quality, truthful news, regardless of their ability to pay for it.
Every contribution, however big or small, powers our journalism and sustains our future. Support the Guardian from as little as $1 – it only takes a minute. If you can, please consider supporting us with a regular amount each month. Thank you.
-Ukrainian diaspora urges Trudeau not to return turbine to Russia
Moscow says equipment, which was being repaired in Canada, was crucial to restore gas supplies to Germany
The office of Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, had no comment but a government source said the Ukrainian government itself opposed the turbine’s return.
Canada’s Ukrainian community has urged the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, to refuse to compromise the country’s sanctions against Russia in order to return a turbine that Moscow says is critical for supplying natural gas to Germany.
Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom cut the capacity along the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to just 40% of usual levels last month, citing the delayed return of equipment being serviced by Germany’s Siemens Energy in Canada.
Canada has one of the world’s biggest Ukrainian diasporas outside of countries that border Ukraine and it has successfully pressured Ottawa to impose increasingly strict sanctions against Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) national president, Alexandra Chyczij, urged Trudeau, in a letter on Wednesday, to see through Russia’s “obvious ploy” to divide Ukraine’s allies.
People with Ukrainian flags outside city hall, Toronto
In Canada, world’s second largest Ukrainian diaspora grieves invasion
Ottawa should instead broker a solution that does not involve waiving sanctions, she wrote in the letter, posted on UCC’s website.
“Any waiver of Canadian sanctions would be viewed as a capitulation to Russian blackmail and energy terrorism, and would only serve to embolden the Russian terrorist state,” Chyczij said.
In an interview, the UCC’s CEO, Ihor Michalchyshyn, said the group was acting independently and not receiving direction from Kyiv regarding lobbying Ottawa about the turbine.
The Canadian government has not responded to the UCC’s letter, he said.
“We have not gotten reassurance of anything, either way,” Michalchyshyn said. “That’s why we’re quite concerned.“
A Canadian government source said the Ukrainian government itself opposes the turbine’s return.
Trudeau’s office had no immediate comment on the letter.
“We will not stop imposing severe costs on the Putin regime while their unjustifiable invasion is ongoing and we will continue to support our European friends and allies,” said Ian Cameron, spokesman for Canada’s natural resources minister, in a statement.
The Russian embassy in Ottawa said Russia had no role to play in returning the turbine.
“It is a problem between Canada and Germany,” the embassy said in a statement. “We would welcome the release of the turbine which could help to restore gas flow to Europe.“
The technical problem with the turbine is merely a Russian pretext, the German economy minister, Robert Habeck, said last week.
Canada, alongside its western allies, has issued sweeping sanctions on Russia after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation”.
I write from Ukraine, where I’ve spent much of the past six months, reporting on the build-up to the conflict and the grim reality of war. It has been the most intense time of my 30-year career. In December I visited the trenches outside Donetsk with the Ukrainian army; in January I went to Mariupol and drove along the coast to Crimea; on 24 February I was with other colleagues in the Ukrainian capital as the first Russian bombs fell.
This is the biggest war in Europe since 1945. It is, for Ukrainians, an existential struggle against a new but familiar Russian imperialism. Our team of reporters and editors intend to cover this war for as long as it lasts, however expensive that may prove to be. We are committed to telling the human stories of those caught up in war, as well as the international dimension. But we can’t do this without the support of Guardian readers. It is your passion, engagement and financial contributions which underpin our independent journalism and make it possible for us to report from places like Ukraine.
If you are able to help with a monthly or single contribution it will boost our resources and enhance our ability to report the truth about what is happening in this terrible conflict.