Bond Notes, A Relief For The Rural Folks
As I prepared for my Christmas vacation in the rural town of Zvimba, I had many thoughts lingering in my mind.
For the first in my life, I was able to earn a decent salary and I had purchased a few groceries for my grandmother, so I was so eager to meet her and of course be showered with all the praises. I couldn’t wait to hear her thank me using my totem which often makes me feel proud.
I could not wait to go and tell her the stories from back in the city. Stories about our new hero who deserted us in our time of need Pastor Evan Mawarire, stories about how tear gas has become a common feature on the streets of Harare and the never ending cat and mouse battle between police officers and kombi crews in the central business district.
Stories about some disgruntled youths under the banner of Tajamuka/Sesijikile, dominated the year with their countless attempts to push the Zanu PF regime out of power for its failure to resuscitate the ailing economy. At the end of the day, they would all be given a fair share of beating by riot police officers, or spend a night or two as guests of the state at Harare Central Police Station.
However, the biggest story I wanted tell my grandmother and anyone in the village who cared to listen, especially during weeding time in the fields was about bond notes. As a journalist, I regarded myself the most informed person around the village, so i had the monopoly to brag about almost everything happening in the capital city.
I wanted to tell my attentive grandmother how people have shouted on top of their voices tying to reject the bond notes yet our government did not budge and instead went on to pour millions on the market. I later realised that though I was correct in my reporting of events, I sometimes lacked accuracy in terms of analysis and got the better part of my time receiving free education from the village elders.
“ As it stands, the country is at a standstill and there is no cash then our government decides to come up with measures to deal with that through bond notes yet someone starts saying they are not good. How silly can one be. The problem with today’s youths is you are misguided in that you think everything that the government does is to benefit the top hierarchy. You are wrong. If anything these notes are for the people, the ordinary people because those at the top have their money stacked up somewhere outside the country so the best thing is to work with what we have, which is the bond,” said Baba Mucha as he sipped his last gulp of the opaque beer with his friends listening and nodding their heads in agreement.
He was mocking youths groups and opposition parties that made noise campaigning against the introduction of bond notes.
As soon as my uncles, who had come from South Africa loaded with their Rands, got to Murombedzi Growth Point, we stopped at a fuel station to add gas, enough to take us to our village.
They tried paying using the South African currency and we all got the shock of our lives as the rand was trading at US$1=ZAR 13 and that is when they jokingly told us that, the rand was less powerful than our own bond notes.
It got me curious to want to find out why the rural populace had “sold out” by accepting the bond notes at a time when Tajamuka and all those unemployed youths who have been masquerading as activists have been making noise trying to reject them and at one time, the #Tajamuka crew, with me being the only journalist in that meeting, met with the Reserve Bank Governor Dr John Mangudya in an effort to try and coerce him to reverse his decision to introduce the notes albeit to no avail.
So I started creating conversations with the rural folk in an effort to get to know the effectiveness of the much loathed bond notes.
What I realized is that contrary to what the urbanites think of the notes, the rural folks have gone on to embrace them and are bonding well.
During one of the beer talks with Baba Mucha, a resident in Murombedzi ,I asked him what his thoughts are on the bond notes and he opened up to me.
“You see muzukuru, (we are not related though) I hear a lot of stories coming from the big city that there are some rowdy youths who do not want bond notes and I’m told they are always fighting the government, but let me be honest with you, that is the silliest and most stupid thing to do.
Not to be left out of the discussion was Sekuru Muzavazi who chipped in and said “Ever since we started using the bond notes, we have had fewer problems with cash shortages. What I thank most about the bond notes is that they came at a time when we were in the process of purchasing farming input so it became easy for us to buy and start the summer crop farming season early,”
So after listening to these two elders, It struck me that most of the urbanites have been misled to believe the bond notes will not work by some civil society groups who pretend to fight for the rights of many yet they have a hidden agenda.
In my pursuit to understand the impact of the bond notes in the rural area, I went to a nearby green vegetable vending stall so that I would buy some tomatoes for my grandmother.
I took out the last of my remaining US Dollars (of course I had bond notes with me) and passed to the woman only identified as Mai Tsitsi and she looked surprised to see the Obamas as most of our people would want to loosely call them.
She asked me where I had gotten the US dollar note, which was looking new, and I told her from the banks.
She then went on to say “Mwanangu, kunoku hatichaizive mari iyi, takutongoshandisa ma bond notes edu aya. (We no longer have the US Dollar in this part of the country, we only use Bond Notes),” she said.
She went on to say bond notes had eased the doing of business as prior to their introduction; business had become very bad due to lack of cash inflows.
“Dai pasina ma bond pamwe ndingadai ndakavhara musika izvezvi, Christmas chaiyo ndingadai ndisingaione (if it wasn’t for bond notes, I would have closed my business. even Christmas wouldn’t be enjoyable),” Mai Tsitsi.
As I went around looking at how people were going about their business, I realized the majority of transactions were being done using bond notes.
In every shop I went, people were using bond notes and the once loved US dollar had become a visitor.
However, what got me worried was where the US Dollar is if there is so much usage of bond notes on the market? Did someone finally take all the remaining foreign currency and shoved it in some offshore account?
In the midst of my thoughts, I was glad that at least the bond notes are not as bad as feared. Imagine how Mai Tsitsi would survive, how Sekuru Muzavazi and company would buy a bottle of opaque beer if bond notes had not been introduced.
It left me with one thought, let’s embrace and use bond notes, the rural folks have bonded well with them.