THE BLOG

Zimbabwe: Have We Forgotten Who We Were Before the Crisis?

I remember in July 1998 running to my mother to ask her for a dollar to catch up with the Dairibord ice cream man. These where the highlights of my weekend back when I was ten years old. I used to spy my mother's crafty hands as she folded out notes in her wallet and placed coins in her drawer and my heart skipped nine beats when the ice cream bell rang because I knew the dollar in her drawer was worth my ticket to a great weekend highlight. The reality is that this dollar is worth nothing, in fact it doesn't even exist in the system anymore and we have forgotten the power it had.

This specific dollar was not a U.S. dollar and we had no multi-currency system then. It was our very own Zimbabwean dollar in the picture above and at that time I had never imagined the downfall of our own currency which my parents and grandparents spoke so highly about. It was in the early 2000s that they began to anticipate inflation but never as rock bottom as what we actually succumbed. Do you remember that nice $5 coin at the far right in the picture? That coin pushed my week through. What is vivid in my mind and rather funny is that it was pocket money I was hesitant to spend because I loved the design so much I piggy banked my $5 coins -- till yes I just had to spend them or go hungry. What I miss is that: it was our money, our own Zimbabwean heritage and a representation of our journey. The day we would resort to foreign money to save our economy never existed in the early millennium. Who knew Zimbabwe would be famous for its $1 trillion note. Saw that coming when everyone became a millionaire.

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Some people woke up trillionaires one morning and it meant absolutely nothing

What I know now is that today in my 20s I want us to go back to find ourselves and become the great nation we used to be! It will not need just the economists, but everyone needs to be in this equation to lift our nation. It will not just be about entrepreneurship -- we will need to have experts who are entrepreneurial and innovative in the fields they are passionate about. Every Zimbabwean needs to participate to make a voice of the nation that has a purpose and leads development. If things must change our voice must be one united for change. It is time to say we will not have it anymore and mean it as a nation. "When conditions are conducive we can always have our local currency in place. We are not yet there. The only possible time we can have the local currency is when we have adequate import cover. We should work to generate adequate exports because figures presented by the Minister of Finance recently showed that we are importing more than what we are exporting, so we cannot have our own currency now," said Mr. Mushayavanhu. It might not be practical to introduce the Zim dollar right now, but we must plan correctly and fight that it happens. Since the inflation was no ordinary fall, the fight to return our currency must be no ordinary one two-step action plan and who said it will be easy.

Economist Mr. Takunda Mugaga said: "If we reintroduce the Zim dollar at the moment, it is bound to be unpopular not because people do not like their local currency, but it will be competing against strong currencies such as the U.S. dollar." Zimbabwe where do we see our nation in five years time? We should start thinking ahead, should we not? After speaking to many Zimbabweans about this issue it seems many of my own friends did not even want to hear that term the Zim dollar. It was noise to their ears. I know it seems that we go backwards by considering this road at some point. But at the right time it shall be important to claim back our identity. How great will it feel to win our own race? This will have nothing to do with politics; though yes politics is a factor: The people are the final power if they believe it. If we ourselves do not speak positively of our own land and the potential we have, can an outsider do it for us? We must learn. The reality of things is that we should understand our influence in changing the things that matter to us.

"We should expect, and indeed require, refinement and improvement of our local currencies and systems of exchange," said Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

Remember that borrowed shirt from a friend? We need to return borrowed goods and fend for ourselves. How can we get back on our feet when we are that kid that is comfortable at 33 in their friend's backyard because it certainly is not our parent's basement? Even if it was, it is time to move out and move on. Hasta la vista! No one wants a friend that still stays in the basement. In April we just celebrated our 33rd birthday. Zimbabwe, you are a grown adult now, and it is time to move out of that attic and become responsible. This includes the leaders and its people. We all have a part to play, don't we? Aren't we tired? Don't you look forward to a time when you have a currency that is representative of a nation that rose against all odds? Aren't we getting too comfortable? When are we starting to plan the rebirth of our Zimbabwe? Have we forgotten? Let us DO something!

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