By Brian Maphosa
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has admitted recurrent cash shortages were “painful” but urged locals to be patient as the crisis could not be resolved overnight.
Mnangagwa was speaking as he presided over the country’s 38 years of independence at the National Sports Stadium on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe has seen an acute shortage of cash on the formal system although abundant on the black market.
The crisis has been blamed on citizens’ continued lack of confidence in the country’s banking sector with millions continuously failing to access their monies in cash from their banks.
In attempts to remedy the problem, banks have been limiting cash withdrawals, something that has seen many locals spend nights on the pavements of banking halls as they try to secure front positions for the following day.
The new Mnangagwa administration, ushered in through a popular military intervention that ousted long serving President Robert Mugabe, has failed to invent quick solutions to end the crisis.
But in his first ever Independence Day speech as President, Mnangagwa called for patience among locals as his government sought both internal and external solutions to the crippling crisis.
“Ladies and gentlemen comrades and friends, we are well aware of the great hardships caused by the lack of availability of cash. This is a painful and poignant issue for so many individuals and families across the country and a problem we are working tirelessly to resolve.
“We must all recognise that this issue is a significant one and cannot be resolved overnight. Our job as leaders is to honestly recognise the scale of the challenges we face and create concrete viable plans to solve them.”
Mnangagwa said his government was accelerating the implementation of measures to resolve the shortage of cash within the economy by mobilising foreign finance from regional and international financial institutions.
Addressing backbenchers in Parliament last week, Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who was speaking as leader of government business in the house, denied the Mnangagwa government had promised quick fix to the country’s cash crisis.
Finance and Economic Development deputy minister Terence Mukupe also attributed cash shortages to former Finance Minister Tendai Biti whom he accused of introducing a cutthroat cash expenditure regime whose aftermath has led to current minister Patrick Chinamasa resorting to Treasury Bills to bridge a government budget deficit.