Of Goat To Be Kidding Me

Once upon a time…. we used to settle our debts with a handshake and an agreement that you had in excess something I needed and I had more of something you needed, so we shook on it and a bargain was struck ..… wait; it is not a folk tale, it just might be the future….

Our crazy economy and its surrogate bond currency might be in for quite some change…. (no pun intended)

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I kid you not

A High Court judge made headlines for offering to goats as settlement in divorce proceedings….Newsday.jpg

….and the goat drama begun because shortly after;

The Ministry of Education was featured in the Sunday paper saying how schools must be flexible in matters of tuition fees and not just turn away pupils.  Parents and guardians can pay for their wards’ fees using livestock or do chores for the school in lieu of tuition.

The Newspaper article carried the headline Pay Fees With Goats:

And as you can imagine goats have broken Zimbabwean internet, people have way too much free time on their hands….

Oh yeah and so far its only schools that have been mandated to accept goats so don’t get carried away…

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To be honest though having parents selling their livestock to raise school fees is nothing groundbreaking but now it seems is somewhat implied that you just walk to the school leading your goat by the leash and hand it to the school headmaster.

What the ministry is proposing makes sense but then it’s not the kind of thing one wakes up and casually announces like “oh yeah, if you don’t have money you can bring in your goats as fees” and it does not really solve the root problem. Anyway how are the goats going to be converted into actual cash for the schools? I am guessing some livestock auction will have to happen; sounds simple enough but if people sell their goats because of not having money, whom oh whom is going to buy them? Some schools are probably going to end up with goats they cant find buyers for or selling them at less than market value, and another thing how exactly is the price of livestock going to be evaluated there’s bound to be lot of chicanery going on, people being the way they are; and in the interim where would the goats be kept, and what would happen if a goat dies? So many questions….

Imagine the unlikely event of every parent bringing a goat, cow or chicken; what a circus act schools would turn out to be and small wonder goat jokes are trending….

If the ministry has everything figured out they ought to say as much and explain how everything ought to work instead of vague newspaper quotes with room to a whole of misinterpretation.

Maybe our future currency is livestock; a legal framework to allow movable assets to be used as collateral or security when acquiring a bank loan, is on its way to being passed into law.

Banks only consider immovable property as collateral and if you don’t got none you won’t get a loan hun; no matter how lucrative the venture you need financing. The logic behind it doesn’t need any economist to figure out; you use immovable property as security because it guarantees one doesn’t up run away with it because hellooo immovable.

Enter The Movable Property Security Interest Bill; which seeks to make movable assets such as livestock, motor vehicles, furniture as collateral for bank loans. If the bill passes for a law this will make it a somewhat easier to get a loan but I am curious though who gets to keep the collateral, the thing with movable property, it can be lost, stolen, it depreciates and possibly dies, I’m no legal expert but I foresee an increase in civil and criminal lawsuits….

Banks best be using the super profits they made to build kraals and pens to hold their loan repayment securities.

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I had a dream of the future and it kinda smells like dung…..

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~B

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Of Bond Age

Welcome to the Bond-Age…. You are supposed to read that as Bond Era, like the year of the Bond, and no, its not a new instalment in the James Bond movie franchise but one ought to be forgiven for thinking bondage and not of the kinky kind…

We have survived this long after the introduction of the Bond Notes surrogate currency, late last year, longer than some pessimists had pegged till collapse of our economy. Bond Notes are a surrogate currency, trading at a rate of 1:1 with the United States Dollar, introduced into the system to help ease the cash crisis. According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe they are backed by a $200 million dollar facility by the African Export-Import (Afrexim) Bank, and to date $102 million worth of bond notes are in circulation.

(confession: I really have no idea what exactly that means if it is a loan or something else and its terms, I worry a little because this is how countries get economically colonised  I’ve read The Confession Of  An Economic Hitman had I heard of said bank before this… and I had never heard of the Afrexim bank before all this; well Google says it is a real financial institution  but I wouldn’t put it past responsible authorities to take creative liberties with the truth and claim to have financial backing so as to instil confidence in their surrogate currency )

The release of the Bond Notes was shrouded in quite the mist of mystery and vaguely phrased terminology like a stimulus package for Export Incentives and Cash Shortage alleviation and I remember a bank even got fined for breach of some confidentiality clause by circulating pictures of the bond notes prior to their release. Even the security features of the Bond Notes were only made public after the notes had been already introduced into the system.

An sms from the RBZ sent as part of their public awareness campaign:

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Who can even make sense of that?

Strangely enough though these notes were supposed to ease cash shortages trading at a value of 1:1 with the USD (easily making the Bond Currency the strongest currency in Africa) it seems to have worsened the crisis and bank queues are even longer than they used to be, and people struggle to withdraw the weekly banking limit, of their own money. The rumour mill has abuzz with talk of introduction of  even higher denominations of the Bond Currency which are currently trading in bond coins, $2 and $5 bond notes; although the Reserve Bank has gone on record to dispel this saying they won’t do so, as that could fuel inflation.

Plastic money, is the order of the day, but it’s still the standard operating procedure to first ask the cashier if the swipe Point of Sale machines are working and if they accept your particular bank, because some banks apparently don’t play with others, and local banks are suspending MasterCard and VISA transactions outside the country or placing limits on transactions.

How about doing RTGS …one would think that something called a Real Time Transfer should be instantaneous yet they take anything from 24hrs to 14 days, where does the money disappear to? Instead of just whizzing digitally from one account to another at the click of a button like magic? What if it disappears there and never comes back, what if maybe that’s how all the cash disappeared ??? You would think is a terrible time to invest in banking, but you would be wrong, banks are making a killing, your money in the bank doesn’t earn any interest and it will probably get eroded in transactional charges every time you swipe your card, or transfer money and other hidden costs, you might even get billed for enquiring your balance… and meanwhile some banks are making double digit million dollar profits…What a time to own a bank

If you figured you could runaway from the Bank Queues and try to make a withdrawal from some unscrupulous mobile money agents, you would find they charge a “commission” on top of the transaction fees and people desperate for their cash have no choice but to pay and that’s how it starts. Mobile Money Operators say such practices are illegal and should be reported, but desperation breeds strange bed fellows; once one person is willing to pay a premium for their cash then someone else will, and then another and another and soon chaos and the parallel market thrive….

Fuel supply is quite sporadic and one can’t just waltz or rather drive to a fuel service station without checking if they have fuel cause they just might not, and you ought not be surprised to find separate queues at the same service station, one for US Dollar fuel and another for Bond Currency fuel.

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Oh yeah, it also shouldn’t further surprise you to see that they are most likely to run out of Bond Currency fuel first too. They blame the Reserve Bank for not clearing their foreign currency payments to suppliers and in return the RBZ says it works on some priority list where not all foreign currency payments are equal; some payments are more important than others….

The RBZ FOREX Priority list

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Officially there is no parallel rate though in effect there is, by offering discounts for cash transactions as opposed to using plastic money which basically translates to cash being worth more. Unofficially there is a multi-tier pricing where there same product has a different pricing depending whether you are using plastic money, United States Dollars or Bond Currency. This is illegal and an RBZ amendment act was passed into effect  which will see perpetrators being jailed for “devaluing” the Bond Currency.

That’s some Bondage for you

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Of Queue Waiting

…..Greetings from QueueWait,  I have spend so much time waiting in this here bank queue, one might think I went on vacation to  QueueWait….

I usually somehow manage to survive without setting foot in a bank or bank queue, resorting to plastic money in all its expensive charges glory…. Its not that I have lots of money to spend or anything but its just more convenient than spending a whole day in a bank queue… The struggle is real….

The cash crisis situation seems to have taken a turn for the worse and as a result I have been forced to wake up at the crack of dawn to forage for cash at the bank……

I arrived at the bank at what I thought was a decent hour, two hours before official bank opening time, figuring not many people would be there, boy was I wrong….. the were already 57 people in front of me and I am the 58th. I even have a number that says so…

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A handy system that helps curb the scourge of queue jumpers, nobody likes a queue jumper; we all have places we would rather be, than here, now, waiting for money, our money not handouts or charity but our blood sweat and tears… where did all the cash go again?

 

It is weird standing in a neat queue long before The Bank is due to open and it is not even waiting in line to get into the bank, its waiting for them to put money in the automated teller machine, which they do after The Bank opens, which is after The Bank gets its consignment of money I guess from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, RBZ. So you wait patiently not even sure if The Bank will get its delivery of money and then hopefully you. You ask the people next to you how this particular branch operates, they tell you the money comes around 9.30am and then the ATMs start dispensing money an hour and a half after that. In hindsight  you realise maybe you should have had something to eat before coming to the bank, that’s what you get for thinking a bank run is a simple in and out and thank you for your time mission…..

You stare at yourself in those bank windows that are really one way mirrors, but at least you can wile away time checking out your posture starring at your reflection and reflecting…. its a good thing you took a bath and decided to dress decently because by the looks of things you wont get time to go back home and change for your meeting for later during the day…

You pass time by turning on your Wi-Fi and searching for any open Wi-Fi Hotspots, you might get lucky and find one too. Its something to do until your battery level goes critical, you should have charged your phone before you left the house, or brought a power bank….. Next Time remember that…..

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You start talking to your fellow queuesmen (hmmm a red squiggly line appeared on that word, not surprised considering I just made it up) There is always that one guy who is overly friendly who tries to engage everyone in conversation telling you how you must entertain yourselves otherwise you could just drop down dead of stress. Someone even makes a suggestion about how The Bank must take out the TVs in the banking halls and put them outside since people spend more time outside The Bank, than inside….

Shout out to that one guy whose idea of making small talk is asking inquisitive personal questions that no one feels like answering and most of the time ends up just having one sided conversations with anyone who dares make eye contact with….

After a while the stranger next to you becomes familiar like an old acquaintance and it pays to remember what they look, in case you have to leave the queue for a short recess to stretch your legs then you can come back and just say “I’m back” and squeeze back into your position without having to take out the piece of paper verifying what number you are in the queue… and just when you are thinking your number is far from the ATM, someone taps you on the shoulder and asks you what number you are… you tell them and ask why, and they say they are number 205 and looking for their position in the queue…. they are waaaaay to the back… Where did the cash go?

Finally the armoured truck delivers the day’s cash consignment for The Bank.. People cheer and generally get a little lighter spirited, money does that doesn’t it? This is when the Queue jumpers usually make their play, trying to persuade people that they were here earlier, even greets you with  the “hi! I am back“…. “But If you were here earlier then you have a number?”… “I lost it”…”Too bad!”… aint nobody got time for that

Some ladies are prepared for this; If you ever wondered what they carry in their those handbags, a change of “sensible” shoes from the heels and wrap fabrics to spread on the ground and sit. Its a good plan sitting because now you have been standing for close to three hours and your feet starting to ache. Queue

You think you are suffering, you are wrong, there is a pregnant lady who seems ready to pop, should she even be here in that condition? But what if she needs money for hospital, and the money is in the bank? Some hospitals only accept cash or take medical aid cards but with a cash co-payment….. where did the cash go?

Finally the security guard announces that the ATM service has now started and the limit per person is $300 which is also the weekly cash withdrawal limit, so if you get your $300 you don’t come to the bank till next week. The next part is the tricky part, the notes come out in $2 bond note denomination and the ATM cash slot tray can only dispense a maximum of  15 notes per transaction which is $60. So to withdraw your full $300 you have to do five $60 transactions. I am sure The Bank is quite happy with this arrangement as they get to bill you cash withdrawal charges five times……

The thing is with everyone withdrawing their weekly limit, it takes an average of 3 minutes and 30 seconds for one person to complete their business on the ATM. (I timed it)

I am number 58 which means I’ll be standing here 3hours 22 minutes and 8 seconds

There’s always the impatient person who complains real loud about everything and anything and how they have places to be and keeps threatening to just quit and go, but they never do, but they talk about it, a lot. While others just quietly disappear from the queue without telling a soul, they never come back…. but the queue moves ever forward, slowly…

….And then just when you get within a two people away from the ATM you are so close you can hear it beep as the person at the ATM punches in their transactions… you get told that it’s run out of money…..

How long does it take to refill an ATM with cash; approximately 1Hour 30 minutes judging from the time it took in the morning… how long does it take to realise that the bank has run out of money and no money will be dispensed by the ATM 2hours, at least that’s how long you wait for before deciding this is pointless and no one has come out of The Bank to tell you anything about anything ……

You just start walking home, because frankly you don’t have cash for the taxi… maybe if they accept a bank transfer ? Where did all the cash go??????

~B

wrote this post to pass time while standing in a Bank queue

 

Of Coffee, Catch up and Bond Notes

 

If you were having coffee with me I wold say it hey it has been awhile….

I like the vagueness of words referring to time …. Awhile, that could be a few seconds a, a few minutes, days, months or years even.

So it has been awhile have you missed me? I have most certainly missed you muchly… I missed my internet connection actually come to think of it, it’s not the internet that I missed

While I have been missing in action as it were, what have you been up to? Read any good books met any interesting people?

I just finished reading a book series called The Malazan Book of the fallen, which I must admit is the most epic not to mention longest most ambitious book project I ever read. I started reading it a year ago and have finally finished 3 million 325 thousand pages and ten books later. Its not the easiest book to read but it’s absolutely worth it, expect a review of it coming up soon.

If you were having coffee with me we would be trying out a recipe I got from a friend, mused by a stranger as it were…. Boil ginger then add coffee and honey,…. it has a secret this recipe, my friend said would only tell me after I include her in a story…..but she happened to pass the pyscho exam so am kind of just the tiny bit suspicious, if it’s not poisonous, she says it’s not but that’s what I would say too even if it was because… hello psycho…..

If you were having coffee with me I would ask you if you remember the time when I told you about how we were having these cash shortages in our country, well guess what the Reserve Bank has resolved it by introducing The New Bond Notes which should trade in value 1:1 with the United States dollar. It seems suspiciously like just printing your own paper and calling it money but we have survived the first week of the surrogate currency being drip fed into the economy and the government says banks are even running out of the new notes showing that they are being warmly received but the government also says lots of other things….. Once upon a  time I had a bank balance of a something close to a quintillion dollars (it’s a real number google it) I wasn’t really as rich as that sounds because it translated to $5 united states dollars and eventually vanished, along with most of other people’s savings …. So with a track record like that its kinda hard to have confidence in a government that feels like its performing a socio-economic experiment with us, I guess we wait and see what happens next….. wish us luck, so far it seems to be working. If you have used these notes how has your experience been?

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If you were having coffee with me I would tell you Code is Poetry, you know like programming code, well I don’t know much about code but I do know poetry and I am learning web page developing so watch this space……..

If you were having coffee with me I would hand you a slice of cake, it was my mum’s birthday today we had cake and laughter, she says she turned one because well there was only one candle on her cake… Happy birthday mum

Thank you for the visit its been great catching up….

~B

PS Oooh and they switched on the Christmas lights in Africa Unity Square Harare that’s how I know its Christmas season…….

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