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Zimbabwe prints own money for first time in a decade

Has Robert Mugabe found a magic formula to mend his country’s shattered economy? Or are bond notes his final, possibly fatal, folly?

It is certainly a desperate act.

Zimbabwe is printing its own money for the first time in almost a decade, when ruinous hyper-inflation forced them to adopt the US dollar.

Here’s the problem: years of failing of agriculture and industry (one estimate of unemployment puts it as high as 90%) means pretty much everything Zimbabwe consumes is imported and paid for with the American greenback.

At the same time, there are few exports to bring them back.

A shopkeeper counts out notes. Credit: ITV News

The result is that Zimbabwe is no longer paying its way in the world.

And for months, the government has struggled to pay teachers and civil servants wages.

The lengthening bank queues in recent weeks show it is, literally, running out of hard cash.

The bond notes are a quick fix solution but the danger is obvious.

Economists warn that printing money will only fuel inflation.

Zimbabweans queue overnight for banks to open hoping to secure some of the country's shrinking store of US dollars. Credit: ITV News

Many Zimbabweans fear a return to those bad old days when an egg cost a million Zimbabwean dollars, and the shop shelves emptied of goods.

‘’We don’t want these bond notes, we want proper American dollars,’’ was a commonly heard sentiment in those bank queues this week.

But when it comes to money – as with so many things in a nation run by the same leader for 36 years – the people have no choice but to take what they’re given.