Zimbabwe coin shortage

This item appears on page 68 of the June 2012 issue.

Zimbabwe switched to using the US dollar as its currency in 2009 and now is experiencing a coin shortage. Coins are too heavy to ship in economically and currently are too difficult for the Zimbabwe government to mint. The shortage means that shop customers often must purchase extra items to round up a purchase, a burden to some.

South African rands and Botswana pulas also are legal tender, but their values fluctuate greatly, making calculations troublesome. Some stores offer paper scrip to be redeemed later.

Paper currency is in short supply. Distrust of the national banks has caused many locals to refuse to exchange old bills for new ones, so those in circulation become dirty and worn out. Some vendors refuse to accept torn or dirty dollars. Travelers may be asked for clean US bills that are not torn.