So, I’m not sure what it says about the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono’s attachment issues, that he’s not willing to let go of a few zeroes in our currency and make all of our lives a whole lot simpler by introducing some new notes as part of his Sunrise II. But he’s not. Instead, we’re losing one note and gaining three more, all as part of his efforts to punish the cash barons – and in so doing, I fear, make things difficult for the rest of us as well.
But, one can only hope that these moves get cash back into the banks and into our pockets. If nothing else, it had better ease things enough that stories like this from Tichafa Nenzara (We’ll Die of Hunger), don’t happen again.
Here is just a small excerpt of the whole letter.
I write this open letter to you (Gideon Gono) with a lot of grief. No malice is intended and the experience presented herein is very true. My wife suddenly fell ill in the early hours on 3 December 2007 and needed immediate specialist attention. A well wisher rushed us to Harare Central hospital. After four hours of waiting for the doctor, my brother offered to foot the bills for a private doctor. He rushed into town and collected banking details from a well known private clinic and made a bee line for the bank to make an RTGS as the cut-off time drew nearer. Getting cash was out of the question. You are well aware of the severe cash shortage in the country. The private clinic insisted that no payment, no treatment. There was a winding queue at the bank for RTGS transactions. Just after 1200pm, my brother phoned to say he couldn’t beat the RTGS cut-off time. I could feel tears swelling in my eyes as I watched my dear wife writhing in pain, with my four year son looking at her confused at why nobody was interested in assisting her. I prayed and hoped that at least the doctor at the general hospital will at least turn up. He finally did and I was relieved. But it was short lived. He looked at my wife and wrote a couple of tests that were required urgently to diagnosed the real cause of the illness. All these tests could not be carried out at the central hospital because the required machinery was not working. He only recommended Paracetamol to reduce the pain. We were back to square one. The private clinic! But no cash, no treatment!
That day was the longest in my life. The following day, we were at the bank by 0330hrs but already there was a queue. When the bank opened its doors five hours later, pandemonium ensued and the queue became useless. My brother did however manage to submit the RTGS on time but I couldn’t get cash, so we left the bank and rushed to the private clinic. If we thought our misery was coming to an end, we were wrong! The clinic told us that they will only attend to my wife after the RTGS had cleared. Their contention being that some RTGS transactions were taking as much as 72 hours. My wife died the following day without receiving medical attention!
Burying my wife was not easy either. The funeral parlour also insisted on the RTGS clearing first. We couldn’t buy enough food for the mourners as the vendors at Mbare musika do not accept RTGS. It was the worst experience in living memory and the most traumatising ever.