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Zimbabwe Central Bank Data Shows Local Currency Devalued 40%

A supporter of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change waves a Zimbabwe flag during an electoral rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo on 5 March 2022. (Photo: Zinyange Auntony / AFP)

The Zimbabwe dollar’s exchange rate was quoted 40% weaker against the U.S. dollar on Monday, a day before the central bank holds it weekly foreign-currency auction meant to establish the official rate.

The currency was priced at 275.79 per dollar on the website of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on Monday compared with 165.99 on Friday. No further detail was given. The move to adopt the interbank rate as the official rate cuts down on the multiple exchange rates developing which also include a parallel-market price of as much as Z$420 per U.S. dollar.

On Saturday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa ordered retailers and wholesalers to adopt the so-called “willing-buyer-willing-seller” interbank rate for their transactions with immediate effect.

“Over time, the auction rate and the interbank rate established through the willing buyer-willing-seller will provide the basis for the orderly unification of the exchange rate,” he said in the televised address. Retailers are allowed to benchmark their pricing to the average interbank rate with a maximum allowable variance of 10%, he said.

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The weekly foreign-currency auction — which has been used set the official rate since June 2020 — usually takes place on Tuesday and the updated exchange rate is published at the end of the day by the central bank. The Zimbabwe dollar is the worst-performing currency in Africa this year, having started 2022 at 108.66 per U.S. dollar.

“We are therefore surprised to see an immediately updated mid rate at 275 this morning on the RBZ website,” said Lloyd Mlotshwa, the head of research at the Harare-based IH Securities. “It’s unclear whether we should take that as the new auction rate headed into Tuesday or if they are simply quoting the interbank rate which from this weekend’s announcement will now be the new reference rate.”

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