JOHANNESBURG – Zimbabwe’s Industry Minister Welshman Ncube on Tuesday said the southern African country would explore the possibility of joining the rand monetary union to end use of multiple currencies.
Harare instituted the use of multiple foreign currencies alongside the Zimbabwe dollar in January in a move analysts said was an acknowledgement of the collapse of the local currency due to hyperinflation – the most visible sign of a severe economic crisis blamed on President Robert Mugabe's controversial policies.
In March the new unity government’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti announced the death of the Zimbabwe dollar. Since then debate on whether to return the local currency has intensified because the US dollar was unavailable to a majority of people in the countryside.
Mugabe has said the local currency should be brought back but Biti told reporters on Monday that a return to the Zimbabwe dollar was a "very long way" off.
"We cannot re-enter the Zimbabwe dollar without the economy to support that, we need another solution. We cannot continue forever with multiple currencies," Ncube told the international media at an Africa forum in London.
"If we can at least join the rand monetary union, we will have money allocated to Zimbabwe through that system. No decision has been made, we will debate it and see what the best alternative is."
The rand monetary union is currently made up of Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho who all use the South African rand alongside their own currencies.
Ncube said Biti’s mid-term monetary review, due on July 14, would include a report on the implications of joining the rand monetary union.