Long jail terms for mocking Zimbabwe’s new currency

Zimbabwe (GU) – Parliament rushes through law in anticipation of bond note introduction

Zimbabwe’s controversial “bond notes” currency, which will be introduced at the end of the month, will be protected by hefty prison sentences.

According to a new law: “Any person who engraves, soils or makes any words, figures, letters or marks, line or devices which resembles in whole or in any part the said bank note is liable to an imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years,” reads a press release from Parliament.

There has been much vocal opposition and many protests against the introduction of the surrogate currency.

The new law appears to be an attempt to preempt movements such as #ThisFlag and #Tajamuka which have found ways to use the country’s national symbols to express Zimbabwe’s troubles. Opposition MPs have taken to wearing jackets and shirts in the colours of the national flag.

Old 20 trillion dollar demonetised banknote of Zimbabwe, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Old 20 trillion dollar demonetized banknote of Zimbabwe, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

“I am very sure this seven years jail threat was crafted with anti-government protest leaders in mind,” says Hopemore Banda, a legal analyst in Harare. “There is fear by the state that the new bond note will become a rallying focus of citizen anger.”

The country’s reserve bank hopes the new bond notes will plug the gaps left by vanishing US dollars. The government says the new currency is backed by a US$200 million loan from Cairo-based Afrimex bank.

But activists, religious organisations, businesses and many citizens say the new currency will start runaway inflation, fuel shortages and a parallel black market for essential food stuffs.

This report prepared by  for GroundUp.