After Russia was sanctioned, we saw how they began demanding their currency for the payment of oil, and immediately the Ruble rebounded because everyone who wanted Russian oil had to bring US dollars to the Russian Central Bank to get Rubles to buy the oil.
In Zimbabwe, nothing prevents us from doing the same and charging Zim dollars for our precious metals and rare earths to give our dollar value.
The only reason why it is not happening is that a few individuals in the institutions that make such decisions do not want US dollars flowing into the Reserve Bank and government coffers. They want these US dollars to go into their pockets while government coffers remain empty for them to live lavish lifestyles in Dubai, Europe and America after exploiting Zimbabwe.
These same people also do not want sanctions to end, so they sabotage anyone who dares to end them because normal means our resources selling through MMCZ, forex flowing into our banks while we use Zim dollars for internal trade and vacation in Vicfalls, Mazvikadeyi and Vumba instead of Dubai. They don’t want that.
Even we the citizens, crave the US dollar so much that we hoard it in our wardrobes and safes, even though we are not importing anything. It is this precautionary hoarding of dollars that borders on obsession and disdain for our currency that keeps our currency perpetually falling from mere demand for US dollars.
And yes, I understand that citizens can never change the cycle so long as their forex savings are at risk of being looted by institutional players who are likely to privatize these national savings. So the government has to reinvigorate the local currency by demanding it for our resources.
We could have the Zim dollar as the primary currency, and it could be very stable tomorrow, if we simply began demanding Zim dollars from foreign buyers who want our resources. But the few who do not want a normal currency continue hoarding, resulting in an empty treasury, the suffering of the majority and perpetual instability.
We have to change this if we want a Zimbabwe that leaves no one behind in real terms and a 2030 middle-income economy. This can only happen when we, the elite and privileged, commit to building Zimbabwe and ditch our attachment to foreign currency, knowing that when we need it, it will be available in our bureau de changes like all other countries.
I will never forget my trip to Zambia and Kanyemba last year. I tendered US dollars in Zambia to pay for fish, but nobody wanted them. It was like I was offering Zambians a worthless piece of paper -which the dollar is- all because they value their own currency.
And to think that not too long ago, Zambians were selling greenbacks on the streets when we were fixated on our own currency, and today, the tables have turned.
We have something to learn from the Zambians, who regained the dignity of their currency and, by doing so, restored their national pride.
By Rutendo Bereza Matinyarare, Chairman of ZASM.