Is the ZWL History for the Second Time?

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As everyone (Since all Zimbabwean’s are economists now) already knows the RBZ yesterday released a loaded, but ambiguous statement ‘in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.’  There are a lot of questions that we still have and had hoped the anticipated SI was going to clear a few questions up. In the meantime, we try and break it down according to our understanding, at this stage. Once the SI is out, we will send an update.

Honestly the two are not directly related. We don’t see how the use of any hard currency to transact helps reduce the spread of COVID. If anything, most of the USD is held as physical cash by individuals and not electronically. This was just an excuse by government to bring back the multi-currency regime and at the same time save face. Remember the ‘no going back, Mono-currency here to stay’ statements?

This could be the crux of the issue. Zimbabwe is having a serious FX crisis with gold production plummeting (not helped by an unfavourable retention regime), tobacco season opening uncertainty and the little issue related to the closure of the only certified refinery to deliver gold to major international banks in South Africa. The only way to access FX would be to allow it to be used formally and hopefully have more of it circulating.

We are not sure if majority of our “free funds” will be transacted digitally as users still don’t have confidence in the financial system and the regulators. As a gold, tobacco or cotton player why would I trust that what is deemed as USD in the system is really USD. Can I use it to pay offshore? If so can I withdraw some of it as hard cash? Or if I don’t spend it will it be swept at 25:1 after 30 days?

Another U-turn reversing the managed float announced some weeks ago! This, in our view, is for the privileged select few that will continue to access USD at this artificial non-market level. We think retailers and service providers will price in such a way that it makes sense for you to pay in hard currency, so they can restock, etc. You cannot have a multi-currency regime with a weak currency that is fixed. There is only one conclusion, ZWL will fail as it will be shunned by users.

In short, mono currency regime is gone. We are back to multi-currency with the ZWL as part of the basket at a fixed rate. It’s a clever 1:1 regime, except users are (or rather, should be) more the wiser now. There is no coming back from here, de-dollarisation is history!

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About Us

We are a team of independent analysts whose primary focus is research into the Zimbabwean parallel markets as well as the stock market. We strive to bring you the most accurate rates in the market and our independence means we have no bias on these rates. You need to make your business decisions and we strive to be your best source of information.


As Market Watch we do not deal in the parallel market nor do we quote on behalf of any other person or company. We are not traders and cannot be accountable for any decisions you make around our data. We are researchers only so please do not assume our information is accurate. Our information comes from various sources including social media as well as market informants on the street. For official USD and RTGS rates please consult your banking partner or the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe. Please note it is illegal to deal on the parallel market and we strongly advise against it. Our platform documents the rumoured parallel market that is mentioned on social media and various other sources.

The Lingo


The ‘Old Mutual Implied Rate’ is a comparison between the Old Mutual share price on the London stock exchange / the Johannesburg stock exchange and the Zimbabwe stock exchange. Effectively RTGS is valued at 1:1 with the USD, but this difference in share price gives us the implied countries exchange rate.


Real-time gross settlement systems (RTGS) is a funds transfer system where money transfer takes place from one bank to another on a “real time” basis and “gross” basis. Settlement in the “real time” means that the transaction happens almost immediately.


The Zimbabwe Bond Note is a surrogate currency issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. This was originally issued against a loan facility from the African Export-Import Bank. The Bond Note is officially 1:1 however the market seems to have significantly discounted the value of the Bond Note.


The symbol ZAR is the currency abbreviation for the South African rand.