Zimbabweans off banks after cash crunch

HARARE, Jan 13, 2008 (AFP) – Kennedy Tsambo’s faith in Zimbabwe’s banking system finally hit breaking point over Christmas when he spent an ultimately fruitless three days queuing to withdraw cash in order to buy a bus fare home.

“This was not a donation that I was queuing for, it’s my own money which I should be able to withdraw as and when I like,” said the 37-year-old, who works as a mechanic in Harare but whose family lives in eastern Nyanyadzi district.

“Now I am thinking of taking out all my money. I won’t deposit any more in the bank until this chaos is over.”

Tsambo is among tens of thousands of casualties of a cash crisis in inflation-ravaged Zimbabwe which has seen banks regularly run out of notes since mid-October.

Central back chief Gideon Gono blames the crisis on cash barons he says have been hoarding Zimbabwe dollars and exchanging them for scarce foreign currency.

Despite unveiling three new currency denominations last month in a bid to ease the shortages, winding queues are still a common feature at banks as the cash crisis persists.

Mairos Chigwada, a self-employed upholsterer, vowed he would “never repeat that mistake again” after depositing all the money he had earned during the p