THIS is an open letter to the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Gideon Gono.
Would you be courteous enough to answer the following questionnaire which is a simple multiple-choice “quiz” and should take only five minutes after which you can get back to work:
1. When did you get your June salary?
(a) on your normal pay day
(b) 10 days later
I ticked both (b) and (c) since mine was paid late because of the chaos with the RTGS system at the banks and by the time I received it, it was not worth anything, so it is as if I did not receive it at all!
2. How did you receive your June salary?
(a) via the trusty RTGS
(b) by cheque
(c) by cash
(d) by forex
Most of us who are FORCED to use (a) or (b) only received our June wages on July 7 instead of July 26. Not only did the whole RTGS system fall apart at the banks, but for the lucky few with ATM cards it was not possible to withdraw anything as there was no cash in the machines. I then had to queue â€” I being number 29 in a long line of tired, fed up customers â€” only to be charged a “penalty” for cashing a cheque at the counter instead of drawing cash from the (empty) ATM.
3. How much cash did you manage to draw at a time from your June salary?
(a) as much as you wanted
(b) the maximum amount allowed
I ticked (b) but had to queue for three days to obtain sufficient funds to purchase 10 kilogrammes of mealie meal, some relish and a bar of washing soap. And by the way the prices of these goods went up as I stood in the queues waiting for my cash, so our final withdrawal could not even cover the cost of these goods and I had to reduce the quantities.
4. How much of your June salary do you still have today?
(a) most of it
(b) enough to last the next pay day
I am sure you have already guessed it â€” I have none and I am counting the days on the calendar until Julyâ€™s payday. By the way I am not only using valuable production time at my job by having to queue daily to draw piffling amounts of cash, but I am also being charged ridiculous banking fees for the “priviledge”, which you forced on me when you directed that everyone has to have a bank account. At the end of the day, I have to draw five times a week to get enough cash together, which also means five bank charges. Is it any wonder that by the eighth day of the month I have nothing left?
5. What form of payment do you use in order to meet your day-to-day expenses?
(d) no payment required
I have to tick (a) and (b) which is nearly impossible these days. Cash is so scarce and restricted that I find myself having to forego or postpone the necessary goods or services we require â€” and no one will accept my cheques without a valid bank guarantee card â€” something I have been trying to obtain from my bank albeit for 23 years. “No cards in stock”, “no lamination material”, “the machine is not working”, “the personal teller who deals with this is not in today”, “waiting for stocks from the UK”, and so it goes on.
And if any business, medical services or others condescend to accept our cheques â€” because we are well known to them, we are “penalised” up to a further 65% of the total value of the cheque because the “value” would have decreased quite substantially by the time our collapsed banking system has managed to process the transaction.
Gono, you appear to be oblivious to the “man on the streetâ€™s” plight. Perhaps the chaos and collapse that exist in our banking system is not entirely your fault, but you are not doing much to remedy the crisis. I think we need to involve the German firm â€” that aroused such indignation from the government â€” in helping run the Reserve Bank and teach us how to run a viable banking system. What do you think?