After spending thousands of dollars advertising and bringing awareness to the public about the introduction of bond notes, it seems Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya’s efforts were all in vain.
in the groove with Fred Zindi
I thought that the government’s crusade to introduce bond notes ostensibly to cure the shortage of the United States dollar, which had become the country’s de facto currency following the decommissioning of the Zimbabwe dollar, would be supported by government departments, but alas, not all of them are in tune with this thinking.
There was drama at the immigration department on Friday December 16 when 2 Kings Entertainment wanted to apply for an emergency work permit for visiting Jamaican artiste, Jah Cure. 2 Kings, which is a local promotions company, after collecting a lot of bond notes from its advance ticket sales decided to pay $1 000 for the permit in bond notes, but Immigration would have none of it.
De Nosh, one of 2 Kings’s partners, said that they would not accept bond notes. He told me that after going through the process required by the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, which involves an application for permission to hold the concert in Zimbabwe, flight details showing times of arrival and departure from Zimbabwe, a letter to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority for a clearance of tax due which is calculated according to the stipulations of the performance contract, a clearance letter from the Censorship Board and paying the required fee for bringing the artiste into the country, “we were subsequently cleared by the National Arts Council after submitting copies of passport details of the expected foreign performers. We received assistance in applying for temporary employment permits and thought that the process was complete.”
“Much to our surprise, it was at this crucial hour when Jah Cure was about to get ready for his performance that we were summoned to immigration and an officer told us that, immigration has made a mistake by letting Jah Cure into the country because he has a criminal past. However, since he is already in the country, we will let him go ahead with the performance on condition he pays $1 000 for an emergency work permit.”
2 Kings who were anxious to let the event run smoothly, without any hitches from the authorities, decided they would pay this amount. They gave the officer $1 000 in bond notes. (The government has told us that each bond note is equal to one United States dollar). The officer demanded the $1 000 in US currency and not in bond notes. 2 Kings, not wanting their show to be disturbed any further, ran around and brought the $1 000 dollars, much to the delight of the Immigration officers
I asked De Nosh to give me the names of the officers involved so that I could find out if this was government policy not to accept bond notes, but he remained tight-lipped as, according to him, he did not want bad blood between him and immigration officials who he has to continue working with as they bring in more artistes into the country.
I later phoned a Mr Kondo, an official in the department asking him if it was government policy not to accept bond notes as evidenced by the latest scenario with Jah Cure. His response was swift, “Let me give you a number from where you will get an official response to your question.”
“Okay, what is the name of the official and what is his number?” I asked. There was dead silence and before long, the phone had been cut off. I tried to call Mr Kondo again on his mobile number 0772 600 682, but it had been switched off.
On a different note, I asked some members of the public, after telling them the Jah Cure experience, if they knew what was going on at immigration regarding the use of bond notes. Here are some of their responses:
Jane, a dressmaker, “If it’s true, then our government has no faith in its own currency. How then do they expect us to embrace it?”
Farai, a local bank teller, “My perception has always been that this money is worthless and those in the know, already know it. It is a matter of time before I am proved right.”
Andrea, a lawyer in Zimbabwe, “I have also had that experience. I went to the Department of Immigration and Control the other day, checking on the status of my residence in Zimbabwe. They asked all sorts of questions and wanted me to pay US$100 for my continued stay. I wanted to give them 100 bond notes, but they would have none of it. Some man who called himself Mr Madziwa within the department then pulled me aside and gave me his contact numbers 791911 or 0774 302 415. He then said that I should call him when I had found the US dollars. He would be able to help me, but I should call him after 10 in the morning. Because this man was reeking of booze so early in the morning, I never took him seriously. So I never bothered to call him. I have not bothered to go back to immigration because US dollars are hard to come by. One has to stand in the queue at the bank for hours on end over a period of two or more days to raise $100. What more if I had been asked to pay $1 000 in US currency?” she said.
I understand 2 Kings are back at immigration to complain about the treatment they received from its officials regarding Jah Cure.
To sum up, why should immigration demand American dollars instead of accepting bond notes? Is there a problem with one paying for their visitor’s entry into Zimbabwe with bond notes since they are equivalent to the US dollars? It just makes visitors feel less welcome, and would not seem to solve any important problem in terms of stopping unsavoury individuals from entering the country (if that is indeed the purpose). Perhaps Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission should get involved here.